Continuing through June 4, 2017
“My paintings must extend from real things; otherwise they just look too much like art,” asserts Brian Rutenberg in his 2016 paperback publication, “Clear Seeing Place.” The New York artist’s exhibition of the same name pays tribute to the natural world seen and imagined by the contemporary landscape painter. Rutenberg breaks apart the landscape by abstracting his visions of nature, while keeping in his mind the spatial orientation and compositional structure of traditional landscape painting. He translates these classical elements through abstraction. For example, his impasto technique creates literal depth on the canvas by building up oil paint in the foreground and thinning it out in the background. Soft washes of color are expertly blended to mimic soft lighting on a foggy morning, and are juxtaposed with coarse blocks of paint with defined edges that protrude forward and command our attention.
Rutenberg’s palette is blindingly vibrant, which contributes to the feeling of complete absorption in front of his canvases. Just when we begin to get lost in the broad fields of color, sinuous strokes that recall meandering tree trunks draw our attention to shift the eye back to the landscape. Rutenberg maintains control over his kaleidoscopic palette, softening pieces like “Flower Bed” and “Pine Lakes 14” while saturating and enlivening others, such as “Thicket” and “Orion.” His paintings are consistently vibrant, apart from “Evening Primrose 4,” which seems out of place in its descending darkness. A vibrational rhythm and mystical quality remain consistent across his body of work.