I ran across this sweet little exhibition of paintings by Calfornia-based artist Marcia Roberts Saturday night at Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Santa Monica. Two shows were opening simultaneously at the gallery that night - the other being a sculpture exhibition by artist Mindy Alper - and a sizable crowd of patrons had turned out in support. The gallery was abuzz with chatter and movement, except in the room where Roberts' work hung where an atmosphere of quiet austerity prevailed. People seemed to feel the need to slow down and hush up around her paintings, as if paying their respects.
|Marcia Roberts, Fort Bragg, 2013, acrylic on canvas over panel, 22 x 30 inches at Rosamund Felsen Gallery|
|Marcia Roberts, Dos Rios, 2013, acrylic on canvas over panel, 22 x 30 inches at Rosamund Felsen Gallery|
The paintings in this show stick to a 'pattern and deviation' formula often found in poetry. When a pattern exists, any deviation from it tends to stick out like a sore thumb and that is often where the action is. Here, Roberts presents a group of paintings that all look pretty much the same - an irregular quadrilateral sits atop a rectangle, bordered by the edges of the canvas. They only differ in color-scheme and in the play of light present at the center of each. So, without even reading the press release, you'd be safe to assume that color and light must be what Roberts finds important.
|Marcia Roberts, Leggett, 2013, acrylic on canvas over panel, 22 x 30 inches at Rosamund Felsen Gallery|
|Painting by Marcia Roberts at Rosamund Felsen Gallery|
I enjoy geometric abstraction in which the artist's hand is quietly present (which reminds me of this fascinating article by James Elkins about Mondrian's technique) and Roberts' work fits that category. From a distance, her lines may look flawlessly straight, but on closer inspection it becomes clear that they are hand-painted and just irregular enough to be interesting, without being distracting. The actual surfaces of the paintings are dull and flat, but Roberts employs exquisitely subtle shifts in color to create the illusion of light glowing softly from within the geometric forms. Think Rothko by way of Malevich.
|Marcia Roberts, Anchor Bay, 2012, Acrylic on canvas over panel, 22 x 30 inches at Rosamund Felsen Gallery|
|Installation view, paintings by Marcia Roberts at Rosamund Felsen Gallery|
The exhibition of paintings by Marcia Roberts is on view at Rosamund Felsen Gallery through June 1, 2013.
(Image at top: Painting by Marcia Roberts, 2013, detail)