On this month in Los Angeles, artist Rita Ackermann has brought forth a series of new canvases at Hauser & Wirth’s expansive Los Angeles exhibition space, showcasing the artist’s continued exploration and reinvention of the painterly language. Composed primarily of large-scale oil paintings that intuitively recast the interplay of line, color and form, Vertical Vanish makes a game of repeated gestures, figures and motifs.
Ackermann continues her modes of reinterpretation and iteration here, themes that have dominated much of her work through a range of approaches and styles. Pre-drawn scenes obscurely emerge from the background, only to disappear into impasto fields of imbricated color. Through a series of gestural interventions guided by the artist’s hand—an admixture of drawing, painting and erasure—oil paints, China markers and acrylics are heavily worked onto surfaces of canvas or raw linen. The works are embellished and reworked several times, creating dense fields of gesture and movement, often with lines lost to near total abstraction and deconstruction. Thickly applied washes of paint are scraped away at, giving rise to new compositional elements. In addition to the larger works, a selection of small, overpainted monotype prints on paper (all dating from 2022) are also on view. These small paintings occupy a middle distance between the mindful reworking of available materials at hand and the unveiling of hidden motifs.
In works such as Vertical Vanish (2021), the painting from which the exhibition’s name derives, underlying figures are overlaid with vivid detonations of color. The materialized afterimage of these colored saturations acts like a veil which seems to environ the viewer while falling just shy of articulating any precise narrative. The measured intensity by which pigments are worked over communicates the purposeful energy of a spatial calligraphy. Relative to the three erased figures at the foreground of the canvas, the ascending vertical spiral becomes the centerpiece of the painting, preserving the harmony of opposing rhythms. Ackermann continues her approach to the canvas as a site of revision and reinvention, allowing repeat interpretations of its internal logic to converge in the final work.
The show closes April 30th.
– C. Reindhardt
Rita Ackermann at Hauser & Wirth [Exhibition Site]