Premier Etage Galleries / Newport
August/September 2001

by John Pantalone
“The Providence Journal”
August 2001

There is some danger in trying to read into abstract paintings too literally, but the recent work of painter Rita Rogers seems to beckon such speculation. In a series of colorfully rendered, untitled paintings, Rogers continues her long pursuit of reconstructing nature’s power.

One large painting, dominated by blue, suggests continents splitting or struggling to draw closer. A small piece appears to capture a firebird in magical flight. Yet another seems to rest a pond of blue on a green field, and you can feel a horizon where one doesn’t exist. Again, a large painting’s wrestling colors reveal a fire at the center top, below which dance swirling lines of color as if they were weeds fluttering in the sea or suffering bodies struggling in the fires of hell.

Many of these works seem to create both a visual and a quasi-metaphorical struggle as colors sometimes flow together and exist in a tension defined by light and dark. Some of the paintings, in contrast, dance with color and swirling movement -— the color thin at the edges and roiling toward the center. Still others suggest shapes inherent in landscapes, but these forms seem to be melting and sliding from the top of the paintings to the bottom, as if the landscapes were an exploding volcano.

Ultimately, these are works that are neither happy nor sad, but ambivalent. Their beauty comes from the force of Rogers’s color application. Whether thin or crusted the colors literally dance with subtle differences created by under- and overpainting to the point where one of her paintings seems a rectangular rainbow surrounded by a blue green mixture. Despite their ambivalence these paintings cannot deny their own beauty.