Rosenberg & Co. is pleased to present this solo exhibition of a key Taos Modernist, Louis Ribak. This show spans Ribak’s career, from the figurative, realist works belonging to the Ashcan movement to his abstract explorations replete with organic, biomorphic forms and a calligraphic style.
Under the influence of Ashcan School artists, Ribak’s early social realist work veered towards the documentary as he depicted boxers, miners, and even international communities being afflicted by Fascist regimes. Ribak experienced a critical turning point in his career when he left New York and moved to Taos, New Mexico in search of better health and a community free of petty artistic infighting. Ribak’s immersion in the Southwest’s terrain and cultures were formative experiences that drove him to explore the land’s mysticism through the lens of abstraction. Unlike Taos artists before him who strove to replicate the Southwest’s beauty and convey the “sublime,” Ribak turned to abstraction to convey the truth of the landscape.
Ribak approached landscapes with vertical compositions in works such as, Yellow Experiment and #3 Clouds, included in the show. Unlike the horizontal format of a landscape, which solicits depth and receding space, Ribak’s vertical format seems to imply that the top and bottom of the picture are equidistant from the viewer, just as they would be in a portrait. The vertical format also allows the forms to float in space, rather than be tethered to representations of the land. These vertical, abstract landscapes - some on a massive scale - work to envelop the viewer and express the landscape’s transcendental properties.
Through Ribak’s evolution from socially-inclined figurative genre scenes to abstraction, the artist remained committed to the notion of documentation and observation. He sought to capture and convey the essence of Taos. Similar to Abstract Expressionism, Ribak’s works always derived from some element of the real world. However, unlike the Abstract Expressionists and other Modernists of Ribak’s generation, his transition as an artist is unique as the only Ashcan artist who applied that way of seeing to abstractions of the land.
After years of recognition in the Southwest region, Rosenberg & Co. is proud to present Louis Ribak’s works in New York, and invites you to immerse yourself in these abstract explorations of the Taos landscape.