OCMA Season Three: Pacific Rim Artists and the Natural World, Part One

Carolina Caycedo, installation view of In Between Bodies, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle. 2018; photo: Mark Woods, courtesy of the Henry



OCMAEXPAND-SANTA ANA is the Orange County Museum of Art’s most recent incarnation, as the museum awaits its highly anticipated move to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in 2021.


Currently located in the South Coast Plaza Village, OCMAEXPAND has embarked on a five season run with the goal of highlighting emerging California and Pacific-based artists. The first two seasons of OCMAEXPAND, the second of which ends in September, were an amalgamation of works which tackled what are undeniably thought provoking themes. The third season to be featured in the OCMAEXPAND space emphasizes one of the most poignant themes to be immortalized in art: human connection with the natural world. The six featured artists – Yang Yongliang, Mulyana, Carolina Caycedo, Daniel Duford, Ximena Garrido-Lecca, and Robert Zhao Renhui — hail from all over the Pacific region, from China to Peru. Despite the unique, varied experiences and origins of each artist, one common thread is clear: the natural environment is changing and mankind plays an integral part in that transformation. In part one, we’ll explore the work of Yang Yongliang, Mulyana and Carolina Caycedo. Read more about artists Daniel Duford, Ximena Garrido-Lecca and Rober Zhao Renhui in Part Two.



Yang Yongliang, Eternal Landscape, 2017; virtual reality video, sound; courtesy of Yang Yongliang Studio. © Yang Yongliang



Deeply inspired by classical Chinese art history, specifically traditional landscape painting, Yang Yongliang’s art radiates a sort of melancholic beauty. Although his art is undoubtedly reminiscent of traditional Chinese literati art with tall hills and mountains shrouded in a serene white fog, the Shanghai-born artist adds an industrial twist with telephone poles, skyscrapers, and city lights. By experimenting with various technological mediums such as virtual reality and combining that modernity with traditional artistic values, Yongliang’s work emphasizes the rising industry of the world we live in, and the inevitable urbanization that comes with it. Eternal Landscape speaks to the juxtaposition and intertwining of the natural world with industrialism.



Mulyana, MOGUS WORLD, 2019 (detail); installation, knit and crocheted yarn; courtesy of the artist; photo: Taryn Hays. ©Mulyana



Characterized by organic shapes, vivid color schemes and whimsical ocean imagery, Mulyana’s work focuses on one of the world’s most majestic entities: corals. The Indonesian born artist has become well known for his abstract yet lively interpretations of many sea-faring organisms, from floating jellyfish to spiraling kelps. Mulyana’s mediums of choice, knitting and crochet, bring a new level of dimension and texture to his pieces. Perhaps most notable in the upcoming exhibition A Man, A Monster and the Sea, are the beautiful garden-like installations which cling to the walls, floor and ceiling. Mulyana’s work instills a sense of childlike wonder into the viewer, but the whimsy and innovation of his art don’t hinder the underlying message of concern for climate change and the fragility of ocean life.



Carolina Caycedo, works from the Water Portraits series, 2015 – 2018; dye-sublimation prints on canvas; courtesy of the artist, Instituto de Visión and Commonwealth and Council. © Carolina Caycedo



The art of Carolina Caycedo focuses not on what lies within the water, but rather the water itself. The exhibition, Wanaawna, Rio Hondo and Other Spirits, is an expansion of an ongoing project called Water Portraits which depicts bodies of water through various mediums, including fabric, film and still imagery. The Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ana River are reflected in oscillating patterns which illustrate the crashing, ephemeral nature of the life-giving force. The exhibition, which will also incorporate elements of performance, portrays water as “subjects with physical and spiritual agency,” not as a resource only meant to be utilized by humanity.


As a whole, OCMAEXPAND-SANTA ANA’s third season of exhibitions will certainly be riveting, as it will explore what it means to live in a modern world where humankind’s relationship with the natural world is as crucial as ever. The artists each have their own focus and inspiration, but there is a clear sense of continuity in the various messaging associated with global issues such as climate change, industrialism and urbanization, and the human exploit of natural resources. 


Visit OCMAEXPAND-SANTA ANA to view Season Three on display from September 21, 2019 – March 15, 2020. OCMAEXPAND-SANTA ANA is located at 1161 W. Sunflower Ave in South Coast Plaza Village. Admission and parking are free and the space is open to the public every Thursday-Sunday.


Read Part Two of OCMA Season Three: Pacific Rim Artists and the Natural World