Ruby Osorio is a Los Angeles artist who found a cultural and aesthetic connection with Japanese printmaker Hokusai and combined that influence with the modern day feminine experience to create a hybrid and intricate style of ink drawings.

Extreme Unction, an exhibit of Osorio’s recent work, is on display through Saturday, October 21st, at Cherry and Martin Gallery, 12611 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista. Admission is free.

Osorio’s work combines issues of identity, transformation and the creative boundaries between the fictional and the mundane, according to Cherry and Martin Gallery. The use of literary and cultural references, including poetry, Hokusai drawings and fashion magazines is evident throughout Osorio’s work. Allegory and fantasy play essential roles. In narratives of the strange and extraordinary, female heroines take center stage and allude to the confounding nature of their desires and anxieties, according to Cherry and Martin.

“People interpret my work as feminist when they read into it literally, but for me its more about my personal experience as a woman than necessarily being feminist,” says Osorio. “I’m more interested in human nature.”

In one piece, a woman engaged in simultaneous creative acts awaits birth while spinning a black widow’s web from her mouth as spiders carry eggs to and from her belly.

Osorio originally attended UCLA to study sociology rather than going to art school, and it wasn’t until later and through the encouragement of others that she discovered she had above-average artistic talent.

After finishing college, Osorio began to take evening art classes in figure drawing, where her instructors were especially fond of her work and began to push her talent.

A five-month artist residency in Japan last year helped move her stylistically in her current direction, she says.

“I identified with the Japanese minimalist aesthetic and the use of the paper and the white space as part of the work itself.”

The works of Hokusai, a Japanese printmaker who lived from 1760 to 1849, also had considerable influence on the evolution of Osorio’s style.

“I love the restraint he showed with his brush strokes and the the way he depicted daily life as if in some fantasy-oriented world,” says Osorio about .

Osorio’s use of fashion magazine aesthetics is to her both an inclusion of that style and a critique, she says.

“It shows a certain idealistic notion of what is feminine,” explains Osorio. “I’m letting the viewer contrast what are truly women’s desires internally versus what an external source says about how women should appear to public or to society.”

Osorio has had solo museum exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach.

Information, (310) 398-7404

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