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Originally published in, December 2002

Abstraction: Francesca Pastine, Paul Henry Ramirez, Jessica Snow and Amy Wilson
New Work: Rachael Neubauer
Rena Bransten Gallery
November 21, 2002 January 4, 2003

reviewed by Amy Berk

Lusciously erotic and formally inventive, the artworks in Abstraction, and New Work: Rachael Neubauer make a fantastic pairing. The artists in both exhibitions, one of painting and the other of sculpture, relish surface textures and utilize color playfully and gracefully, to great effect.

Pause in the Landscape (2002), Jessica Snow

Pastels pervade the galleries. Pause in the Landscape (2002), Jessica Snow's delightfully contained small acrylic painting, appears on target in size and chroma. Her larger work, Orbit (2002), seems less focused. Using white pins and yarn, the boxes of this painting continue off the panel and onto the wall, but the effect here is not as successful as her other efforts in a similar vein. Here, the combination of material, form and shadow lacks cohesion.

Electrifying shadows activate two new works by Francesca Pastine. In Curl and Space Between Pink (both 2002) Pastine uses a material close to my heart, Styrofoam, as a base for her tricky aluminium cut-outs. This cut-out treatment appears to pay homage to recent work by sister gallery artist Irene Pijoan, whose delicate paper cut-outs have been standouts in a rich gallery program. Pastine, however, employs painted aluminum, delicately slicing the material and pinning the intricate construction onto white Styrofoam. A deep velvety green unfurls behind a duller grey in Curl, dangling flourishes and curlicues and casting rococo shadows on the wall behind. The openings evoke organic forms and I must admit that I visualized hearts and penises in those chasms.

Curl (2002), Francesca Pastine

More eroticism is present in the hairs, nipples and oozings of Paul Henry Ramirez's work. He presents two untitled works on paper, one from the Space Addiction series (2002) and one from the Edging into Excess series (1999). Ramirez effectively utilizes layering and texture in both works. The show is rounded out by two untitled graphite drawings by Pastine (2000) and a large oil painting by Amy Wilson. While they are strong works, they do not seem to fit well with the rest of the show's innovation and whimsy.

In the next gallery, Rachael Neubauer presents physical manifestations of some of the ideas presented in paint in Abstraction. Her mixed media forms share highly polished surfaces and a strange sexual charge. All are precariously attached to the wall, save one lone floor piece, and a tension develops as one wonders when gravity will have its wicked way with these bulbous forms.

Neubauer's fertile imagination continues to produce forms resonant with the body, bloated with desire, oddly inert, and fun. Her muted palette of blue, brown, mustard, taupe and green provides startling contrast to the jewel of the show. In her first foray into bronze, Neubauer has created a Brancusian form with shadows galore whose reflective surface sparks an internal dialogue on content along with providing the pure enjoyment of its formal coherence. Lovely (and almost sold out) small drawings on photo paper further link her physical foms with the two dimensional language advanced in Abstraction.

Untitled (link) (2002), Rachel Neubauer

The pairing of these two beautifully nuanced and balanced exhibitions is a treat for the senses.