The Art of Excess

“My work is about pleasing the eye,” says Teresa Oaxaca. Indeed, though her oeuvre includes conventional portraits in charcoal and oil and straightforward still lifes, Oaxaca’s portfolio is dominated by large canvases where every centimeter is filled with a riotous array of objects (many from her collection of antique dolls, Venetian masks, nutcrackers, china teapots and skulls that have become repertory players in these paintings) and her trademark cascade of flowers in full bloom strewn carelessly around a central figure, which is often costumed in period attire and makeup. At first glance, these paintings seem like an amusement park for the eye. With time for contemplation, however, the visual overload, the unusual pairing of objects and figures, the high-key saturated pigments and hyper-expressive subjects in sometimes inelegant poses find a deeper resonance with traditional realism, albeit a slightly transgressive version of what one might find among the old masters on a museum wall.

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