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Artist's Reception: Rita Bernstein at John Cleary Gallery

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 24, 2012
Updated: Monday, January 06, 2014

Out of Place

Exhibition Dates:
June 2 - September 1, 2012

Opening with the Artist:
Saturday, June 2
6:00 - 8:00 pm


The Out of Place work by Rita Bernstein is elegant, moody and above all poetic. Everything about the series is intimate. A self proclaimed "reluctant traveler" Bernstein works mainly in places she knows- her home in Philadelphia, her family's summer cottage in Pennsylvania, or their grounds- and with people she is close to. The small size of the pieces heightens their intimate feel- we are enveloped into the spaces, wrapped by the light or entangled by the darkness. Each jewel of an image causes pause and reflection on the dramas of life. Bernstein frequently depicts youthful figures; the intent is not so much to explore childhood as it is to consider the human psyche itself. Youths being less seasoned, skeptical, or reserved engage many of the same life dramas as adults. The difference is the true rawness of their sentiment, their action.

This lean toward youth is fresh, the handling of the work though, engages a sense of longing. The prints themselves are special- hand applied silver emulsion on Japanese gampi paper, and some further worked with beeswax and oil paint. Though we do not know the youths we identify with them directly. The litteral surface of the works sparks a nostalgia for memory. We find our own histories entangled with the pattern of theirs, and recall ourselves at the water's edge as a child in summer, like the bathers at Lake Swim or the young girls at play at Sliding Pond.Jordan and Ingrid may remind us of our first crush in, and Virginia and Ann of an intimate discussion with our parent.

Bernstein is right to focus on the drama within and between the youthful figures- it is potent yet forgiving. We feel a different drama in works like Transgression and The Last Time as the less youthful figures embody a certain heaviness or even, we wonder, regret. As adults we struggle with the same entrapments, but our past informs us, and at times work against us to hold us back.

For more information on this exhibition please visit John Cleary Gallery

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