Putting the Real in Surrealism: The Art of Micah Ofstedahl
“Reality is not just what’s in front of us and what’s observable,” says local surrealist painter Micah Ofstedahl. “There’s that other side of reality that’s kind of the unknown and mysterious.”
Ofstedahl focuses his work on melding the known with the unknown by combining natural science with surrealism––a philosophy that has produced a body of visually intriguing work that feels at once illusory and deeply corporeal.
“You have that element of science, which is more about knowledge and concrete elements, facts and what we can observe about reality that’s right in front of us,” says Ofstedahl. “And then there’s the surreal elements that I like to throw in there, because it adds that element of mystery––our subconscious and creativity.”
Inspired at a young age by the art of Salvador Dali, Ofstedahl went on to study sculpture in college before focusing on surrealist painting. He explores in his work the hidden sides of reality––both the more etherial unknowns and the concretely real, but often unseen––his focus often on such things as microscopic patterns in nature and the composition of the cells in our own bodies.
“Even though they’re actually very real and observable concrete things, since it’s something that we don’t notice every day, often because it’s microscopic or beneath the surface in one way or another, we kind of take them for granted,” says Ofstedahl. “Since we don’t think about them very often or see them as part of our reality, they seem surreal to us.”
In this yin-and-yang pairing of concepts, there is a poetically optimistic takeaway: “Having an appreciation for those small things gives us an appreciation for the complexity of life and beauty of life,” says Ofstedahl. “It makes us wonder, it inspires us and lets us think beyond the reality that’s immediately in front of us.”
Ofstedahl’s work is currently on display at Starbucks in downtown Ashland through April, with pieces consistently on display at Little Shop of Bagels. Ofstedahl will also be participating in the Disjecta Contemporary Art Center’s Portland2016 Biennial exhibition July 9 – Sept 18.