Edward Cella Art & Architecture, is pleased to present Sublime Terror, a new series of paintings by Ruth Pastine. Representing the fourth solo exhibition with the gallery, it features the newest progression of Pastine’s investigation of the perception of color through fluctuating boundaries, relationships and structures. Sublime Terror reveals the essential tensions that drive her work: surface and depth, light and matter, materiality and immateriality, the finite and the limitless.
Informed by the systematic understanding of color developed at the Bauhaus and the 19th Century research of Michel Eugène Chevreul and his discovery of simultaneous contrast; her new paintings challenge phenomena of color perception and the relativity of color and light in an installation that reveal themselves between the uncertainty and intentionality of their making. For Pastine, “Color itself, in its infinite beauty, constitutes the terrifying immeasurable field of light and space that it defines.”
Abandoning the square canvas format entirely for this body of work, these new paintings are defined by distinct frameworks of banding in horizontal and vertical formats. This installation positions viewers to consider color field paintings that transcend and offset the picture plane. Pastine describes this by saying, “There is a reciprocity between predetermined systems of color and canvas format, and these known systems are in constant opposition to the spontaneity of the painting process itself. As these systems change and advance; the opportunity for mediation between the known and the unknown embraces my philosophical interests in the sublime which Immanuel Kant defined as requiring the presence of something terrifying and beautiful.”
Exploring new color relationships, Pastine creates paintings through a highly refined process of building layer upon layer of oil paint on canvas. Engaging both complementary hues and opposing values within a self-limited color system. Made with immeasurable small brushstrokes, her impeccably subtle gradations develop spatial juxtapositions by transforming the materiality of the painted surface into an optically immaterial experience. For Pastine, “Color is a vehicle for existential experience, for engaging in the present moment of discovery. The finite complementary color systems paradoxically afford the essential parameters that access limitless possibility. When in orchestration with the spontaneous process of painting itself, there is the potential to transform the materiality of the painted surface into an optical, sensual, and spiritual experience.”
Sublime Terror is an important move for Pastine as part of a deliberate conceptual leap to contextualize the interplay of transcendental fields with definable forms. By bringing together the tangible with the intangible, Pastine states that there is, “an essential tension in my work, an ever-present exchange and dialogue between presence and absence, matter and light, light and space, intention and spontaneity, and the finite and the limitless. This demands letting go, and accepting the free fall of the unknown, and risking failure. The unknown is always at the edge of discovery and is the on ramp to new work.”