New Paintings
May 20 – July 8

Please join us for the closing reception on Saturday, May 20th, 3-5 pm!

Visit Chieko Murasugi and Renzo Ortega to see works from the exhibition.

Cheiko Murasugi’s paintings are above; visit Renzo Ortega’s gallery page see works his works in the exhibition.

Painting is a sequential endeavor. A painting consists of a sequence of brush strokes, a series is a sequence of paintings, and a body of work is the culmination of the artist’s production. Every painter is also indebted to the long succession of painters who preceded them. In this exhibition, painters Chieko Murasugi and Renzo Ortega, arriving from very different backgrounds and pictorial approaches, create works that speak to the idea of sequence, both within the canvas and outside of it, all the while expressing their vision of what painting means at this moment.

Chieko Murasugi employs personal symbols and visual illusions within an abstract language to access the realm of ideas. She visualizes the notion of chance by using a computer program to “roll the dice” and introduce randomized elements into ordered sequences and patterns. In these paintings, selected features are randomized within both traditional and novel patterns to create a balance between predictable and unstable perceptions. Chieko frequently employs the hexagon, a Japanese symbol of longevity and a shape that holds personal significance. By chance, her parents narrowly escaped the fires from M-69 incendiary bombs dropped on Tokyo during WWII, bombs housed in hexagon shaped containers. In other paintings, Chieko incorporates the recently discovered Einstein hat shape that is based upon the hexagon and creates tile patterns that do not repeat. Lack of repetition is a crucial characteristic of randomness.

Renzo Ortega‘s painting practice consists of consistent, repetitive processes, which is how he masters his craft. Renzo believes that a constant pictorial rhythm has existed since the beginning of human existence. He relates rhythm with heartbeats and connects paintings with bodies’ frequencies. For Renzo, this consistent sequential rhythm exists in the masterworks of the history of easel painting. For example, in the drumroll-like strokes of bold impressionist brushwork, in the obsessively revisiting over and over color sequences of Van Gogh, in the endless different point of view approach on the same theme of modernism, to the tremendous progressive line of twentieth-century pictorial isms, which unleashed a free-minded contemporary painting that is the result of an infinite loop of expression through painting’s physicality.

The SEQUENTIAL exhibition invites the observer on a visual journey, generating an organic relationship between the artworks and the gallery’s visitors. Through the dynamics of color, form, ideas, and narratives, Chieko Murasugi and Renzo Ortega seek to generate a dialogue and the experience of art appreciation with the audience.


As a trained scientist, my explorations often begin with a question. In most paintings shown here, my question was: can one detect random/chance events within an ordered field? My answer so far, not surprisingly, is yes and no, it varies with the circumstances. It depends, for instance, upon the location, salience, and relative quantity of the random elements. As I continue these investigations, I ponder to what degree chance affects lives, and whether random events receive due credit. These, of course, were my original questions.


Chieko Murasugi was born in Tokyo to a mathematician father and artist mother, and immigrated to Canada with her family when she was three years old. Growing up in Toronto, she studied Social Psychology (BA, McGill U) and Visual Arts (BFA, York U) before earning a doctorate in Experimental Psychology, specializing in Visual Perception (PhD, York U). She was awarded an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct visual neuroscience research on monkeys at Stanford University. After publishing several scientific papers, she began an independent painting practice in San Francisco while raising two children with her neurophysiologist husband. She moved to the NC Triangle in 2012. In 2019, she received an MFA in Studio Art from UNC-CH, and co-founded BASEMENT, an artist-run experimental project space in Chapel Hill. Chieko has exhibited her paintings and mixed media works widely in galleries and museums, including Greenhill, and the Ackland, Wiregrass, Weatherspoon, and Mint Museums. Her paintings can be found in public and corporate collections, such as Duke University, City of Raleigh, TIAA, and Honeywell. Chieko is the recipient of Wildacres, Black Mount College and Art Center (digital), and Hambidge residences, as well as an Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Grant and grants from the Orange County Arts Commission and the NC Arts Council. Her art practice is featured in Liza Roberts’ 2022 book, “Art of the State: Celebrating the Visual Art of North Carolina.”