Gavilan College Art Gallery
Lena Gustafson: She's A Rainbow
Lena Gustafson is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Oakland, California. She is a painter, printmaker, and muralist. In addition to her solo artistic practice, she and her partner, Peter Calderwood, collaborate on various projects including books, prints, zines, and t-shirts under the name Night Diver Press. She received her BFA from the Art Institute of Boston.
Gustafson’s work is characterized by a fresh, informal quality that reflects an explicitly West Coast attitude. Her strong and inventive use of color is at once playful and cerebral. Cotton candy pink is juxtaposed with dusty blue and moss green, inky black and glowing red. Bold shapes interact with an idiosyncratic line. A Bay Area native, the work is influenced by the Mission School artists, as well as the Asian and Mexican communities that are integral to the cultural landscape of California.
Gustafson’s primary subject is women, at work, play, and in repose. The work is notably feminine, yet avoids any clichés often associated with this word. The women featured in her images are active: diving into or emerging from water. Even those reclining appear to be deep in thought or actively engaged in their own reveries. There are hints at the nature of their internal world, but it remains mysterious to the viewer. Their bodies are displayed, not as objects, but as self-possessed vessels of emotional, sensual, and intellectual experience.