Melissa la O’ is a Filipino artist based in Manila, Philippines. Trained an architect, she completed her studies at the SCI-Arc School of Architecture in Los Angeles in the 1990s, continuing to Columbia University in New York, after which she oversaw several international projects at the intersection between design, architecture, art, and science both in Manila and abroad.
La O’s painterly practice departs from this cross-interdisciplinary methodology to broadly inquire into questions of space, place, and the possibilities of representation. Her large-scale works in oil depict abstracted scenes of nature, suggesting expanses of water, vegetation, and natural sediments, sometimes in direct reference to the tropical lands of her native Philippines. In this way, la O’ writes herself into the global and diverse histories of landscape painting, critiquing the pastoral romanticism of scenes of nature. Under la O’s treatment, nature is processed instead in architectural terms, deconstructed into indexical and organizational components, hinting to the viewer at the indexical impulse in all human perception of the non-human.