"East west spring fall" showcases a significant leap forward in Astrid Preston's landscape close-up oeuvre. No press release is necessary to prompt recognition of the influence of Japanese art as well as Japanese flora itself. In addition to a few of her particularly recognizable sun-drenched, close-up paintings of plant leaves, in several works here she takes her realism very nearly to abstraction. Smaller paintings of branches from 2008 and '09 feature dense webs of lines that almost depart from figure-ground, were it not for the evidence of their high-concentrated light source.
“Orange Haiku” is the most intriguing of a series of square paintings with painted squares within, leaving a roughly 3-inch border of un-primed linen canvas exposed around the edges, in this case with just a handful of thin branches merging into a large swath of the orange — the Zen of line and color. “Wind from the East” has Preston's now-trademark sun-spattered leaves stretching out across an unprimed linen background, with a few white, skeleton-painted leaves dancing around the edges. “Three Cherry Blossom Trees” is even more spare, the super-thin skeins of the foreground tree in all-white, floating in and out of the branches of its adjacent neighbors. Preston's willingness to go this spare, leaving a lot of real-estate unpainted, is an admirable stretch for her, demonstrating a willingness to not only integrate Eastern aesthetic premises, but also to reach beyond her own comfort zone.
Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2010