Rudolf de Crignis was a maker of tools….De Crignis’s tools—his paintings and drawings—function by offering a visual experience of subtle difference and nearly imperceptible change. The deeper we look into them, the more we understand what they were meant to be; the longer we look at them, the less we understand what they actually are. They reflect attention straight back into the viewer’s own eye and mind. What we learn from them is as much how we see as what we see. Perhaps if we look long enough, we might even see who we are. ~Lawrence Rinder, Director and Chief Curator, BAMPFA.
Betty Cuningham Gallery is pleased to open Light, an exhibition of canvas paintings and works on paper by the late Rudolf de Crignis. This is the artist’s second exhibition at the Gallery, located at 15 Rivington Street, New York. An opening celebration will be held on Saturday, October 19th – please join us for a toast to the artist from 4 – 6 PM.
The exhibition focuses on work completed after de Crignis had established residency in New York. By this time, he had abandoned his long-standing interest in the organic or figurative qualities of his subjects in favor of a reduced, geometric style. His works became more meditative. The color became denser and darker in tone; de Crignis turned to oil paint over tempera for its translucent qualities. De Crignis considered all works, whether on paper, panel or canvas, ‘paintings.’
Included are two large paintings from the early-1990s "black" series, each measuring 72 x 60 inches. In addition, there are two smaller canvases, one gray and the other blue, which date from 2004, and both measure 30 x 30 inches. The largest work on view is a 15-panel red painting from the mid-1990s. It is important to note that whether ‘black,’ ‘gray,’ ‘blue’ or ‘red,’ these are only a preliminary means to identify each work.
To create the works in this exhibition, de Crignis first coated his canvases with layers of gesso, and then using thin veils of oil paint in multiple layers and colors, he painted across the surface with a wide brush. In a 2002 interview, the artist said, the layering technique functioned “to build up a certain space for the space and the light” ensuring “that everything in the painting is visible…The whole journey of the painting is open.” The twelve paper works provide a more intimate view but follow the same journey, with lines drawn or incised, ruled or free hand, effaced or not, sometimes with watercolor or tempera.
De Crignis (born Winterthur, Switzerland, 1948; died New York, 2006) studied at the Form and Color School for Design, Zürich. In 1976, he exhibited in the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. His work has been the focus of numerous solo museum exhibitions, including Kunsthalle Winterthur, 1995; Artothek, Cologne, 2001; Kunstmuseum Bonn, 2003; Swiss National Library, Bern, 2006; Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich, 2009; and Berkeley Art Museum, 2013. His works are in numerous public collections, including: Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Harvard University Art Museums, Boston, MA; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Berkeley Art Museum, CA; Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN; Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland; Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland; Lenbachhaus, Munich, Germany; Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany; Kolumba, Cologne, Germany; and PEAC Museum, Freiburg, Germany.