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  • Cristi Rinklin WBUR Artery Review

    Rinklin's Otherworldly Landscapes Are Poised At Boundary of Tech and Tradition
    By Greg Cook
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    Cristi Rinklin’s paintings are filled with forests and rocky outcroppings, with paths that seem to skirt the edges of glassy still ponds right before the water disappears.

    That disappearing act and the way everything seems to float makes the dozen images in her exhibition “Displaced”—at Steven Zevitas Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, through Jan. 31—feel magical, otherworldly. The Boston painter’s woods can bring to mind the dreamy, misty hills and villages of traditional Chinese brush painting as well as the untamed, idealized American landscapes painted by 19th century realist artists affiliated with the Hudson River School.

    But Rinklin’s realist scenes are vignettes floating amidst strands of flat, hard-edged cartoon clouds and soft-focus backgrounds that feel like images blurred in Photoshop. Step back a bit and Rinklin’s patterns, with their rich, subtly contrasting reds versus greens or blues versus oranges, evoke antique wallpapers or military camouflage.

    Cristi Rinklin's painting "Migration 2," oil and acrylic on aluminum. (Courtesy)
    Cristi Rinklin’s painting “Migration 2,” oil and acrylic on aluminum.

    Philosophically, Rinklin—whose work also will be featured in “Naturetech,” a group show opening at the Fitchburg Museum of Art on March 8—is involved in a post-modern project tugging at the nature of realism in a moment when everything is digitally photographed and then Photoshopped. Her paintings recycle pictures from paintings, wallpaper, Google images and collected photos. From this mélange, she produces paintings poised at the boundary of technology and tradition. It’s some of the best, most beautiful, most sensuous painting (she paints on impervious aluminum, which keeps her pigments slick and vibrant on the surface) you’ll see around these parts this year.

    Rinklin has been exploring these motifs for years now. In the past, the sense of artificiality, of digital or cartoon confection was more pronounced. These new paintings make realist passages more prominent—and add an invitation to wander into these worlds.

    Cristi Rinklin's painting "Migration 1," oil and acrylic on aluminum. (Courtesy)
    Cristi Rinklin’s painting “Migration 1,” oil and acrylic on aluminum.

    That invitation—which can bring to mind the vicarious journeys through the misty hills of (again) Chinese landscape paintings or first-person video game adventures—is most pronounced in the trio of paintings “Specter 1, 2 and 3.”

    The triptych invites you to wander trails that wind like M.C. Escher or Dr. Seuss constructions through realistic rust-orange trees and hills situated amidst flat turquoise clouds and red and turquoise blurs. It’s transporting—and a little disorienting—all the more so because Rinklin hangs the three paintings atop blue and gray wallpaper featuring similar motifs, which creates a hall-of-mirrors wow.

  • Cristi Rinklin Boston Globe Review

    Rinklin Alters Perceptions In A New Show At Zevitas Gallery
    By Cate McQuaid
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    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.

  • James Sterling Pitt in the Boston Globe

    Boston Globe, November 12, 2013 by Cate McQuaid <Link to Original>

    Low Key Charm

    James Sterling Pitt’s sweetly humble show of drawing/painting/sculpture hybrids at Steven Zevitas Gallery features fairly small works made of carved wood and acrylic paint. Most of them have white borders with colored lines bumping and intersecting within them, often with two or three layers to add dimension. Their lines waver like those in an arch New Yorker cartoon; their edges are as pleasingly white as confectioner’s sugar.

    “Untitled (Sand/Sea – Alameda)” contains within that white rectangle a front grid in yellow beige and a rear one in sunny blue. The grids match up only loosely, so blue peeks through yellow squares; they look syncopated. These pieces have a low-key charm, but the tensile possibilities of the lines never quite take off.

    Occasionally, Pitt swaps out his carved wooden lines for wires strung with little painted wooden tabs, as in “Untitled (‘Bittersweet’ – 11-3-12),” which features imperfect orange circles dotting the wire. These pieces feel frothier and freer. The dots seem to dance and quiver; the wire slopes haphazardly from one side to the other. It looks like an abacus made by a first-grader, and has a freshness that Pitt seems to strive for, but not quite achieve, with his exclusively wooden works.

    Pitt’s pieces attempt to capture events in his life, so you might say they have an underground narrative that we’re not entirely privy to. Background materials mention an encounter the artist had with a white peacock and later appearances of the bird’s image that led him to ascribe meaning to it. But filtering that meaning through abstract art makes it difficult for us to catch it on the other end. We can only look at the works through the rubric of art.