Reception for the Artist: Friday, October 5, 5-7 P.M.
An exhibition, New Paintings by Winston Roeth, will open at Charlotte Jackson Fine Art on October 5 and extend through November 1. An Opening Reception with the Artist will be held on Friday, October 5 from 5-7 p.m. The gallery is located in the Railyard Arts District at 554 South Guadalupe Street.
Blue vibrates. Orange hums. Green ebbs. Walking into the quiet of the gallery, you might feel as if the echo of a conversation that had been going on just before you entered lingers in the space. Presences, creatures, each of the eight pieces in New Paintings by Winston Roeth, with its characteristic painted border and its mutable interior color (or colors), quickly begins to speak again, this time to the viewer, drawing them into orbit. Spend time with a piece, moving back and forth to experience the way color, light, and shadow play and shift within it, and the whisper may very well turn into conversation.
Roeth, whose work has found a home in some of the most prestigious collections around the world, from the Albright Knox to the Panza Collection, has spent decades refining ways to release color inside of pigment. Although he has been called "... probably the best color-painter in New York," (by critic Michael Brennan), it is not questions of color that drive Roeth's work. And sitting with the living, breathing color of Roeth's paintings, it might seem ironic when he says, "I'm not really interested in color." What does interest him is not color problems, but rather light and pigment.
This is not so hard to understand, because light is clearly integral to these works, essential to the way they are seen and experienced. While light travels faster at the edges of these paintings, speeding around the painted "frames," it slows and seeps into the dry, matt space of the interiors, which catch and hold both light and shadow (which, as Roeth says, is inseparable from light). In a matter of seconds the viewer can watch as a dense pool of deepening blue lolling at the bottom corner of a piece lifts free and opens outward into the violet range, as a cloud passes across the sun.
An intimate knowledge of the pigments is also apparent. Roeth uses pure pigments in a water-based polyurethane dispersion. Over the years Roeth has worked with a plethora of pigment types and shades, from ancient traditional powders made from stone to cutting-edge colors only available because of new developments in chemistry. Each pigment has its own unique qualities, structure, and character. For Roeth, "Each pigment holds knowledge, knowledge there to be revealed." Applied layer after layer, the pigments build in a complex, if microscopic, architecture. The way they form, the patterns they make, will determine the way light will bend and refract as it penetrates the surface. However, for all the technique and knowledge required in their making, these works are neither mechanical, nor cerebral, they are visceral.
The viewer's response, immediate and intuitive, may change and deepen in nuance as they spend time with a piece, but it remains on a basic level something almost elemental. There is nothing passive about these works in any sense. Alive, they act. Alive, the viewer acts.
The "multichrome" (as Roeth terms them) works in this exhibition represent three series, including Portraits, Split Paintings, and one Space painting. The Portraits, hung perpendicularly, with their painted frames, reference the traditional portraiture format, except here the subject is a pigment, a color and its many possibilities. The Space paintings, alternately, reference landscapes, with the rectangle hung horizontally. Here the color inside the frame becomes sky or earth, but without horizon. The Split Paintings are constructed of separate colored panels, united by a common frame. The effect, particularly in a work like Split Decision, is one of perpetual movement as the eye flies up and down the piece from panel to panel, only just held in check by the frame, seeking to resolve the pieces into a whole that seems to simultaneously defy the eye and to arise complete in defiance of fragmentation.
Each painting in New Paintings rises up from the depths to assert its personality, its presence. Like individuals with different voices, each painting seems to offer a unique message, and together, as an exhibition, they form a chorus. In all their complexity and vibrancy, Winston Roeth's paintings are waiting for the viewer. They are waiting not to be discovered or analyzed, or even appreciated-but to share space with us, to tell us what they know.
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