How might a point of tension or fluctuation be an artwork’s intended destination? What is the experience of occupying and observing these moments as such? Flux, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Patricia Reinhart, asks these questions as she takes up the visual richness and bodily phenomena of nature with the intensive examination of the painterly questions of line and color. With tension, transition and fluctuation present in both the referential and formal elements of her paintings, each work offers dimensions of interpretation.
Taking the dynamic spectacle of the fata morgana as an inspiration, Reinhart’s undulating compositions mesmerize. Coined after the Arthurian sorceress Morgan le Fay, these superior mirages were believed to have been created by witchcraft to enchant and lure sailors to their demise. The scientific explanation of this phenomenon is the consequence of refracted light as it travels across a gradient of temperatures, triggering our brain to project back a distorted reality. Reinhart’s paintings recall the fata morgana not only visually, but conceptually as they challenge the viewer to settle the dissonance between what seems and what is. Her color gradations and density of layers coalesce into optical play. Paint drips appear inverted, diagonal, and right side up, suggesting multiple gravitational pulls frozen in a state of transition. Like a mirage, Reinhart’s paintings are at first a visual experience. Then, inevitably bodily, with their fluid materiality and saturated color palette, igniting our sensorial and perceptual faculties.
Adjacent to the illusion of her vibrant colors is another tension Reinhart engages with: a rigorous experiment with disegno e colore. Instead of participating in the Renaissance-old debate over the primacy of drawing vs. color, Reinhart embraces a discourse between them. Her jarring and whimsical black lines contrast the allure of her colors, creating a push to their pull, an anchor to the reality of the surface, resulting in the breaking down of her own mirage. It is a formal, painterly concern that draws upon her meditative and intuitive sense of balance and composition. Like monuments to the joy of painting, the works draw out the potential of medium to dazzle and interrogate, presenting an artwork in flux.