Jaime Ursic takes her inspiration from her environment—the phenomenon of the mundane objects and the timeworn surfaces connected to the places she inhabits. In her most recent body of work, titled Present Conditional at The Underground Gallery in Silverlake, Ursic seeks to reinterpret the medieval metropolis of Florence, drawing on her introspective observation of a city distilled to its most microcosmic elements. Working in monoprint, Ursic’s prints demonstrate her total emphasis on the process of printmaking. Each object serves as a visual homage to her craft--lovingly building up the surfaces, layering the subtle tonalities of the colors, embossing texture with the addition of locally found materials, and finally, drawing in ink on the finished piece. The final images glow with color, inviting the viewer to peer just a little closer and discern the loosely flowing organic shapes and delicate patterns pressed and layered into the surfaces.
Ursic’s colors float in space—the acrylic pigments deposited over one another overlapping with the sheerest effect. In works like Untitled # 8, the complements of red and green push and pull against each other but only lightly coat the surface of the paper. Faint scratches and scribbles etched into the color reveal the imperfections and rub away the layers to reveal what has come before. Ursic further manipulates the surfaces with the addition of found objects—the plumber’s thread that absorbed more pigment—releasing a slow, dark shadow onto the paper. The final effects are reminiscent of some ancient and exotic reptile skin, inviting fingertips to trail across the surface, exploring the tactility of textures that seem both known and unknown.
All of the works are offset and uncentered. Ursic blurs the edges, in some cases dissolving the prints right off the page. Edges are unmatched, seams gape and overlap—the smears and imperfections give evidence that these works were produced as unique improvisations. The print Untitled # 11 makes use of the thickness and viscosity of varying blue acrylic paint, entwining the mistiness of the color with embellished marks of texture swirling like organic detritus. The suspended glass beads crushed into the paper look like seedpods or pollen, embedded into the paper. The texture and colors merge past one another. They become palpable, tactile. Shapes are repeated and doubled, emphasized by the ink drawing outlining their final forms.
Ursic’s monoprints revel in the process of their creation—demonstrating the experimental and playful nature of production. In Untitled # 5, she weaves together turquoise and brown acrylic pigments, scattered throughout with threads of copper. There is a slow buildup of layers, distinct and separate, intertwined over each other. Complex textures pattern across the surface, the result of the broom bristles, plumber’s thread and glass beads layered onto the paper and then compressed into the surface with a six hundred year old printing press. The final effect is comparable to an archeological dig, calling on the viewer to sift through, dust off and inspect the final image, mining the work for visual treasure.
In Present Conditional, Ursic endeavors to create her abstract visual impression of the city of Florence. She creates the kind of art objects that invite the viewer to search out details, inspect the layers, and look again to find familiarity in the lines and meanderings of color and texture. She captures the age and patina of an ancient place on an elemental level, fusing together the antique processes of printmaking with the innovation of her own technique. Ursic finds the balance between careful construction and joyful invention—navigating a new mode of communicating and examining personal experience.
--Keri Jhaveri, Art Historian