Critiques early 1980's
Artist's journey into space
Space exploration is not the prerogative of cosmonauts and astronauts – as is evident from Rachelle Bomberg-Lipschitz's exhibition of paintings at the South African Association of Arts Gallery.
This artist's journey into space however, is metaphysically rather than physically orientated – which has certain advantages. Limited only by the boundaries of her rectangular formats, pictorial space is sensitively probed with eye, brush and colour. In response to forms which evolve in the process, colour areas develop and spread seemingly spontaneously.
Clouds of colour float in nondeterministic space – a space which seems to extend beyond frame limits as white ground colour and white gallery walls blend. At intervals linear barriers in the paintings check colour flow and appear to alter the plane of colour as if shifting into another, space and time zone. This space shift is repeated in shadows cast by the frame edge in gallery walls, thus involving the three-dimensional “people” space of the room.
In some works painted and frame edge delineations are echoed in pleats and seem stitched into canvas fabric – evidence that effects are not accidental but the result from the realization of a clear concept.
Paintings have the elusive quality of canvases tinted with coloured light rather than painted surfaces. This effect results in the main from unprimed or lightly primed canvases absorbing the liquid paint, presenting veils of transparent colour. In other works however, paint appears to lie on the surface like a fine film or skin.
A sense of no beginning – no end – is achieved when paint is applied in the ground colour, gradually becomes tinted, swells into gentle forms, collapses and once again dissolves into the neutral ground. Variations in spatial illusion include optical twists or dips – and only on close inspection are we made aware that paint is in fact applied flatly.
In the small gallery there is a change of mood. With colours less ethereal - more earthbound - colour drifts are reminiscent of smoke, steam, fire – all well contained within sensitively structured “scaffolding”. Another element is introduced here – a visual split or chasm opens colour areas to reveal vistas beyond ...
At the Gowlett Gallery in Long Street, Rachelle Bomberg-Lipschitz is exhibiting 25 paintings, most of them large, representing a step forward by this important artist who transposes her interest in the universe and humanity into particular forms, depths and colours.
These pictures are visceral, conveying the feelings of the artist through body as well as mind, through emotions as well as reason, so that when viewers go into the pictures, in which they are partially reflected in the glossy surface, they share the artist's experience.
These pictures are given great depth deliberately, exemplified by No 19, Emerging Soul, as brilliant a work as No 8, Crucifixion, echoing Dali's treatment of the same subject, looking at the Crucifixion from a great height and not, as is usual, from below.
The only portrait is No 3, Untitled, and the woman's face is seen through a thin veil, her expression as knowing but as inscrutable as that on the faces of Leonardo's women, especially in his Madonna Of The Rocks. And what Rachelle Bomberg does in every detail, is what she intends to do.
Colour symphony arouses emotions
Rachelle Bomberg-Lipschitz paintings on view at the Gowlett Gallery are symphonies in colour, composed in hues and tones that relate to the spectrum of sound.
As visual music they arouse a variety of sensations. In some pieces one can almost her a low rumble of drums in others, the high pitched throb of a taut violin, while elsewhere contrasting colours and asymmetrical structures produce senations similar to that experienced with atonal music.
Over the last couple of years Rachelle has refined her concept as well as her handling of paint. While pigment is mainly applied smooth and flat, in some works it seems that colour has simply wafted onto the surface, while in others, pigments erupts to form veined and cratered reliefs.
While the sense of living colour dominates one's impressions, the way pictorial space is articulated offers possibilities for reading on less sensuous, more philosophical levels. The tranquility of misty colour fields is disrupted by sword-sharp bands and steaks of colour and metallic paint.
Like searchlights, they pierce and probe pictorial space, suggesting passages in time or corridors to other dimensions. Over and beneath the bands colour-clouds hover, sometimes gathering to form a boiling mass of 'cosmic soup' ...
“Transcend” is the title of this show and it is entirely appropriate. Paint and canvas lose their individual identities and merge to form things of sometimes intense beauty. These are paintings which have the capacity to reach out and touch the viewer in a variety of ways.
Seductively complex works in strong contrast of light
The similarities between aspects of Venetian Renaissance painting and that of Rachelle Bomberg-Lipschitz's work, currently on show at the Chelsea Gallery, are striking.
Bomberg's dramatic glowing figures embedded in strong contrast of light and dark emerge through whirls of richly coloured brush-work. Virtuoso passages of paint are often interrupted by straight edged slashes and then gently continue in clouds of brooding and complex colours.
These are formally very sensuous and almost abstract paintings, but that doesn't mean they are devoid of content. They are very open in their metaphysical associations such as energy, paradox, space, time, freedom and so on ...
...collectively they underscore how finely tuned Bomberg's simultaneously delicate and muscular painting techniques are. Even though we know paint only reflects light some of these works, like thosde of the Venetians, seem to emit a light of their own…
Melvyn Minaar art critic - Opening speech Sasol Art Museum 2012
Odyssey Issue 2, 2013, Rachelle Blomberg Feature
Spirit in the Mass - A speech by Beezy Bailey, 2006
Extracts from articles by Trish Baum for Fine Living, Renaissance, Kulula, 2004 - 2005
Cape Gallery 2000
Extracts from an article by Mary-Ann Hart
Press Release Primart Gallery l997
Critiques early 1980's
Odyssey Magazine 1980