Critics’ Picks

Adrianne Rubenstein, Die Brücke, 2017, oil on panel, 30 x 40".

Portland

Adrianne Rubenstein

Fourteen30 Contemporary
1501 SW Market Street
January 27 - March 11

Without being escapist, New York–based artist Adrianne Rubenstein’s newest works are sensually delightful paintings that transport the viewer to another world: one full of color, joy, and raw innocence. Exploring playful subjects such as a bunny and a children’s toy, they offer a refreshing experience of painting’s visual language unfettered by self-consciousness and theory.

Rubenstein’s marks are quick and free, shifting direction and transparency across each painting. At times they make more use of impasto; at other times they appear scrubby and drawn, as if with crayon. Educational Toy (all works 2017) is a feast of gestural and chromatic abstraction. In the center of this vertical work are the squiggled outlines and circular forms of a well-known developmental toy made of beads that can be moved along thickly coated wires. Blues, yellows, and greens (the show’s primary palette) are mixed wet with red and white, both defining and exploding the shape of the toy. The plaything is designed to foster perceptual and motor skills—which could be a metaphor for painting itself. There are two little cars in the foreground, their kinetic brushwork setting them in motion across the picture plane. In Die Brücke, Rubenstein quotes some of her influences: German Expressionist painters such as Max Pechstein and Emil Nolde. This horizontal painting is focused on a large, chartreuse, caterpillar-like shape grounded in an expressionistic landscape. Like the Die Brücke artists, Rubenstein celebrates the familiar and the everyday while expressing something new and discoverable about her experience, encouraging the same in the viewer.