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Color Study

December 4, 2021 - January 22, 2022

An orb, with triangular rays of mellow blues and yellows, is a hollow brown mass at its center.

San Francisco-based Nicole Phungrasamee Fein’s newest body of work marks an abrupt shift from a minimal palette of black, white and gray to an exuberant burst of color.

Consistent with prior work, Fein restricts herself to watercolor applied to paper in the format of the square or the circle, achieving a wide variety of effects within her tight, self-imposed strictures. Fine dots of pigment, evenly distributed, mask any trace of the artist’s hand, yet these paintings are made under conditions of extreme concentration, control and patience.

Veils of translucent color are applied in layers. Sometimes deliberately mis-registered, the edges reveal the component colors used to build the compositions. In other pinwheel or cross forms, the distinction between discrete and overlapping colors is more equally allocated. In every instance, these works are remarkable not only for the gorgeousness of color and mysteriousness of process, but also because of the tranquility they exude.

Fein’s work is inherently, almost defiantly resistant to language; it is virtually impossible to find any adequate means of describing it in a way that will capture its experience or effect. Critic and curator Paul Carey-Kent acknowledges as much in writing about Fein: “We can rationalise the work – how it was done, the time and concentration it took, where it fits in. Yet after doing so, we’re back where we began, drawn in to how the transcendent meets the exact.”

Nicole Phungrasamee Fein was born in Evanston, Illinois (1974) and grew up in Santa Barbara, California. She attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (BFA), and Mills College, Oakland, CA (MFA). She has exhibited nationally and internationally including in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Zurich, and Berlin. Her work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The San Francisco Chronicle, Artweek and ARTnews. Her work is numerous public collections including the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum; Blanton Museum of Art (Austin); Fogg Museum (Cambridge, MA); Hammer Museum (Los Angeles); Menil Drawing Institute (Houston); Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Whitney Museum of American Art.


Hosfelt Gallery
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Wheelchair accessible
BIPOC artist(s), Women artist(s), LGBTQIA+ owned, LGBTQIA+ curated
Event Type
Pandemic Info


Hosfelt Gallery
260 Utah Street
San Francisco, CA 94103 United States
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