new-york

Rodney Ripps

Marisa Del Re Gallery

Rodney Ripps has come a long way, from what I once called (in these pages) his “cosmetic transcendentalism” to transcendentalism pure and simple. He has clarified his work to make the sublimity—the infinite import—of nature transparent. No doubt 19th-century transcendentalism can only have a troubled, compromised existence in 20th-century America, when the nature that once seemed this country’s greatest blessing has become tainted—cursed—by exploitation. We live in its ruins, preserving fragments of it against the day when our indifference to it, often disguised as sentimentalization, will undermine us.

Ripps’ thoughtful new paintings show all the problems of maintaining a transcendental vision in a society that thinks it has mastered nature—that views it only as raw material. (Is what happens to it in our products “refinement?”) Furthermore, all current modes of representing nature seem

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