Robin Mitchell: How Many Heartbeats in a Lifetime?

Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica

(March 5-April 9, 2016)

For almost 40 years, the art world has repeatedly and predictably equated challenging acts with spectacle and theatricality. Robin Mitchell’s work defies this shallow and repetitive trend; her paintings are unique for a modest scale that barely contains their intense and transcendent imagery. Mitchell never resorts to the decorative or sensational; she has faced and circumvented obstacles most abstractionists never negotiate. Her attitude encompasses the metaphysical and spiritual while completely embracing painting’s potential.

Mitchell’s paintings are composed of layered, crudely concentric circles of dotted lines superimposed on a field of transparent color. Her imagery is subsumed into an all-over pattern of interlocking, repeating shapes, dots and dashes and amorphous forms conjured from a range of intense hues. The use of color is startling: Mitchell opposes light and dark and sets complementary colors against each other. Forms are mirrored, repeated and transposed. The resulting imagery rarely conforms to familiar or conventional ways of conducting color across a surface; their brilliant optical rhythms, strange and dissonant, create a powerful illusion of depth. There is a tangible visual throb, an effervescence, to the work; the charged planes of color and skeins of lines resemble a buzzing diagram of magnetic fields. The viewer is drawn into the structure of the paintings. The mind courses along their dotted pathways and illusory spaces.

One aspect of Mitchell’s work is a resonance with non-Western imagery. Her paintings echo the symmetry of Mexican folk art and even the influence of Islamic designs. It also engages the vibrating illusions of ’60s Op art, Her work is in fact an intense compilation of distilled influences, the result of newly forged references and connections, realized with extraordinary skill and intensity.

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