Rinklin Alters Perceptions In A New Show At Zevitas Gallery
By Cate McQuaid
Spatial illusion is one of the most intoxicating tropes in art, and artists are not the only ones who use its ability to seduce. Today, we can spend all day in virtual worlds engineered to captivate, and never look out the window.
Cristi Rinklin’s terrific new paintings at Steven Zevitas Gallery continue her exploration of the power of space, cleverly shuffling ways in which it has been depicted through the centuries. She draws on sources that include Baroque paintings, Japanese landscapes, photographs, wallpaper, and images found online. She mashes them together in digital collages, which she then paints. Her colors are hyper; she jams deep space up against impenetrable flatness.
“Displaced” centers on a forest of fir trees along a glassy lake. The trees cast blurry reflections on the water’s surface — an electric blue, at once hot and cold. Similar blue areas waver along the edges of the painting. These might be clouds, but they are so unarticulated — just flat blue — that they snap us to the painting’s surface, and it’s as if we’re peering through cut glass down at wintry woods.
A third element plays between the trees and the clouds, in passages that shimmer with color and shadow, like crumpled silk. If the woods prompt a drop into landscape, these passages suggest a woozier descent into the unconscious. Rinklin’s varied expressions of space overlap and interrupt each other; what might be a cloud here is more an island there. She makes the magic of spatial illusion yet more mystifying.
The “Specter” series, a suite of three paintings, hangs against patterned wallpaper of mountains and clouds unfurling like ribbons, drawn with cartoony swagger. The paintings depict an attenuated red landscape, craggy rock faces, trees, and meandering paths, like Japanese landscapes. They entwine with the same flat electric blue and distant, romantic passages of color in “Displaced.”
It took me a while before I recognized that “Specter 1” and “Specter 3” are, like the wallpaper, patterned, with the same trees and rocks cycling through. This offers yet another layer to Rinklin’s intoxicating, elusive world: Experience repeats, maybe endlessly. It’s the gauzy hint of nightmare, lurking in dreamland.