Rick Arnitz

Gallery 44

A lot of what Frank Stella called “suburban abstraction” crops up on the West Coast because abstract art has even less of a history here than elsewhere. But once in a while, you encounter indigenous abstract work that can hold its own in any context. The recent work of Oakland painter Rick Arnitz, which turned up at an out-of-the-way cooperative gallery, is a case in point.

Arnitz’s painting appears to be backed by no program or theory. In fact, until recently, his work was goofy with images depicting what looked like landscapes filled with boulders or possibly licorice gumdrops. His interest in these images seems to have given way to an interest in the effects created by certain tools—such as paint rollers—rather than to some intellectual imperative concerning the integrity of abstraction.

The illusionistic frames set everything within these pictures at a distance from the viewer. What is

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