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A Critical Reflection on Rick Stevens’ Evolving Structure

Rinchen Lhamo’s critical reflection of Rick Stevens’s exhibit, “Evolving Structure”

Rick Stevens‘ abstractly decorative compositions of form and color are dedicated to expressing visions of intangible sensations that seem to be based on an essential rhythm of nature. He paints and draws with a language of intuitive expression that is supported by a lovely, romantic spatial organization, one that encourages the viewer to discover receding planes of space through shifting and overlapping rectangles. All of the works in this show express the artist’s well-honed ability to abstract his observations of the visible, natural world into beautifully organized patterns.

Rick Stevens - Weaving a Dissolving Pattern
Rick Stevens, “Weaving a Dissolving Pattern,” Oil on Panel, 24 x 24 in

Use of Mosaics

In Gateway, there is a flood of many layered, yellow tones that renders an effect of dazzling brilliance, with pigments that are thin enough to allow the viewer to see the thread of the canvas underneath. Stevens stretches his linens on panels, all the better to force the nubby woven texture of the cloth to come through. The surface plane is shot through with the artist’s signature fugitive, bright bonbon colors such as pink rouge, splashes of emerald green, and blue — all encased in small mosaic-like, stylized rectilinear geometric patterns that resolve the structural tension with pleasing contrast.

These Klimt-like mosaics, found in all of Stevens’s work, imbue both the oil painting s and the pastel drawings with an ease and lightness, as well as lending them a mysterious atmospheric depth. The pastel drawings Divine Convergence and Directional Deflection are both compositions that are at once perfectly calibrated and artfully askance, intimating a kind of figuration that evokes a deep mystical meaning that stimulates the imagination. That is, they are figurative to the extent that they are representations of space, intimate landscapes of the psyche, each with a portal to an inner sanctum.

Rick Stevens - Continuous Entanglement
Rick Stevens, “Continuous Entanglement,” Oil on Panel, 24×24 in

A Kaleidoscope of Colors

The viewer has a sense that Stevens’s sumptuous colors represent a logic that is just an unrelenting as the logic of all his forms; they help the viewer recognize the relief and tension of each plane, an incomparable sense of pattern and searching mood. Unspeakable Grace, rendered both as an oil painting and a pastel drawing, has a windowpane formation that inflects the picture plane with a truly exuberant creative energy. The entire surface is raked with small, shimmering, kaleidoscopic circles and squares –rendered with a generous palette of tangerine oranges and lime greens and tender lilacs– but it is also bisected both vertically and laterally, into upper and lower portions that beckon inward, to spatial ambiences of Utopian-bright lapis.

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Critical Reflection of Rick Stevens’ “Critical Reflection”