New York

Judy Rifka

Artists Space

What is striking about Judy Rifka's paintings is their appearance as collages. Collages of paint. The surfaces are plywood, assertively there. Attached (to, on)—layers of paint building into a tangible thickness. The pigment doubling, crisscrossing on top of itself into an envelope of color. A material shape appended, as if glued, on the surface. In the series of matte black paintings, for example, two separate pieces seem to overlap, one superimposed on the other, their edges intersecting to outline a single form. Yet throughout the black is the same color. It is the drawing of the paint, the lines articulated by its varying density, that defines the interior shapes and thus substantiates the optical effect of depth. Internal rectangular patches of paint emphatically demarcate the corner of the creases. A suggestion that the shape is arrived at by a systematic process of folding. But is this a paraphrase? A painting that makes itself. And is Rifka's involvement with materiality just another demonstration of the physical basis for the construction of an artwork? Perhaps an indication can be found in the two pieces shown in a Bykert group show. Here both support and image build together. Paper cards with sections of red paint add one next to another, in uneven columns, to accumulate a defined red figure on an irregular field. The shape of the image seemingly a priori and yet always contingent on the alignment of the segments of its origins. And I wonder whether the issue of the actual structure of making is still a question. Or whether it has become accepted as statement.

Susan Heinemann