aurora xxi, ink & gouache
OLIVIA PETRIDES BIOGRAPHY

I travel to primal landscapes that operate powerfuly in the psyche, such as volcanoes, geysers, fault lines, lava flows, icebergs, glaciers and caves. These sites are often remote, pristine, and so physically and metaphorically potent that it would seem impossible to utilize or even interpret them. Yet glaciers are melting and icebergs are towed for fresh water, and so my delight in beign in such locations is tempered with the knowledge that these are exploited territories.

For the last ten years, I have focused on drawing because of its direct, elemental and transparent nature. In 2007, I was granted a winter artist residency in Iceland to observe and draw the aurora borealis—a spectacular, continuously moving phenomenon caused by atmospheric gases interacting with solar particles. I translate the flux and epic magnitude of the aurora into a language of discrete marks, fluid gestures and surging movements overa a panoramic field. The result is an immersive, charged space in which it is difficult to position oneself physically or verbally—there is no fixed viewpoint, no words, just a massive flux of detail when confronted with a sublime event.

Like the nineteenth century Hudson River Valley painters, I utilize dramatic tonal contrast, turbulence, and heroic scale to evoke the grandeur of nature while our cluture commodifies and endangers it.