When artist Oana Singa moved from Romania to the United States with her husband and a baby on the way nearly 15 years ago, language was the biggest barrier to adjusting to her new home. Now, English words fill the paintings that hang in her temporary studio at 4846 El Camino Real in Los Altos.
Singa’s pop-up exhibition, “Oana Singa: Art Inspired by the Theatrical and the Absurd,” opened Jan. 18 and runs through April 30, when the recently approved Altos One housing complex will begin to take shape on the property.
Phrases like “Come on now, imitate the month of February” and “I understand nothin’” sweep across vibrant canvas backgrounds, each of the expressions more curious than the next. A sign detailing Singa’s inspiration and the feelings the expressions stir inside her accompanies each painting. She said they are just anecdotes.
“You can take it anyway you want, people can relate in any way they want,” Singa said of her art. “I do not have a license for making you feel that way. … You should feel it, make it your own.”
Singa moved into this creative phase six years ago and finally felt that she was in the right place to open a pop-up gallery and invite the public to experience her work. She has also explored interior design and jewelry making. Nothing on her artistic journey is planned, she explained. She becomes fascinated with something and creates, leaving remnants of each pastime all over her house.
A longtime friend of Singa and her husband, Mircea Voskerician, approached the artist when he had free space before a development he owned was scheduled to be demolished. Her husband, who works with Voskerician on his Altos One project, encouraged her to check it out. When Singa first surveyed the space, she didn’t want it.
“I came with my husband and he showed me the space and it was all closed (up),” she said. “Those who had (owned the space) had it all closed up and had no contact with civilization, so I could not see anything. A couple of days before Christmas, I said, ‘Let’s go see the space now, no one is there.’ This space was free … my website was almost done. … It was just a matter of making it happen.”
In a matter of days, Singa and her handyman cleared out and cleaned the space. While he fixed the now-pristine area of the white ceiling that had been leaking, Singa donned her work clothes and measured, drilled and hung posts to mount her artwork on.
Singa clutches at one of the pieces of jewelry she’s wearing and states without hesitation that of course she wants a permanent gallery if all goes well. For now, this pop-up opportunity is “perfect.”
“I’m very curious how the people of Los Altos will take what I bring in, the excitement, the energy,” she said. “For example, downtown, what kinds of stores are there? This is not a quiet thing I (am bringing) here, it’s not muted. There are so many engineers, this (is a) hub of engineers, and I don’t know how they’ll deal with so much color.”
Some of Singa’s most thought-provoking paintings have no words at all because they don’t need them, the artist explained. Moving into a sectioned-off space within the gallery, light shines through windows with no curtains. Singa removed them herself. Shifting an inch or two in another direction to see the next painting illuminates a shade one has not yet seen.
“Oana Singa: Art Inspired by the Theatrical and the Absurd” is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, noon to 4 p.m. the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, and by appointment. For more information, visit oanasinga.net.