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‘Order Systems’ examines the communicative potential of patterns

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Natasha Mazurka: Order Systems at The John and Mable Ringing Museum of Art.

All photos courtesy of Natasha Mazurka.

Iridescent sheets of vinyl arranged in multi-branching nodes throw kaleidoscopic patterns onto the concrete floor of the Ringling’s Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art. Part of Order Systems, these layered vinyl installations exemplify Canadian artist Natasha Mazurka’s interest in the human desire for authority, certainty and purpose.

Order Systems is Mazurka’s first solo museum show in the United States, as well as the first exhibition curated by Ola Wlusek, the Ringling’s Keith D. and Linda L. Monda curator of modern and contemporary art.

“Natasha questions how our aesthetic systems and social structures help us communicate,” Wlusek said in a press release. “Her recent works indulge in the illusion of beauty that stems from repetition and a sense of order, but she challenges these patterns by inserting social narratives about conformity and imposed behavioral structures.”

Vistor with The Attendants, 2018, textured vinyl, 144 x 120 inches.

Order Systems relies on a variety of mediums—including oil paintings, embossings on paper and site-specific installations—to capture the variation within the organic, synthetic and digital motifs Mazurka employs.

Natasha Mazurka, Suckers (detail), 2018, oil, ink, acrylic, and vinyl on braced Baltic birch panel, 60 x 96 inches.

Swirls of muted blues, pinks and bronzes highlight the organic imagery of Mazurka’s oil paintings. The paintings’ fractal-like imagery is elaborate, but the repetitive nature of the work and the matte surface of the canvases lend a visual simplicity to Mazurka’s compositions. Works like Ladies Night and Incubator speak directly to the experiences of femininity and motherhood with circular shapes that recall both soft, fleshy bodies and the cell clusters of the human reproductive process.

Natasha Mazurka, Index XVIII, Set One (detail), part of an ongoing series, 2015, hand embossed parchment paper in two overlapping layers, 8 x 12 inches.

In contrast, her embossings and installations depict synthetic and digital imagery, such as Morse code and branching programming languages. Mazurka’s All flesh is weak. All flesh is grass. and her Index series consider the ways in which the imposition of structure relates to the surveillance of the female body and motherhood. The title of All flesh is weak. All flesh is grass. is a reference to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian story of female subjugation through government control over reproduction.

Mazurka will give a talk about her artistic practice and the exhibition on Tuesday, May 18 at 10:30 a.m. in the Monda Gallery. For more information about the event, visit www.ringling.org.

Order Systems will be on view until Sept. 8, 2019. Like all shows at the Ringling, admission is free with the presentation of a valid New College student ID. For more information about Mazurka, visit www.natashamazurka.com.

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