David M. Roth reviews Ruth Pastine: Witness at Brian Gross Gallery, San Francisco, on view through February 25, 2017.
Roth writes: “Ruth Pastine’s supersaturated color-field paintings unite two seemingly contradictory characteristics: sensuality and remoteness. How might that work? Smashingly well, as it turns out. The Ojai-based artist blends vertical bands of strong color into gradients that… Where Rothko articulated states of mind, Pastine’s paintings call forth primal states: human life at the very beginning, before inchoate sensory impulses coalesce into thoughts and feelings. Thus, the most vital parts of these paintings are their blurry edges, the ‘seams,’ where one color melts into another. They take us back to the liminal state into which we were born, and in it we lose ourselves, becoming engulfed in pure color sensations, the character of which changes according to which shades dominate and how they mingle and subdivide.”