My works emphasize multi-layered systems of abstraction within time and space. All of my paintings have a geometrical component, but also have an emotional relationship of meaning. The paintings are either from the gestural action painting part of my career (energetic, chaotic, free form) or the newer body of works that are narratives, a vocabulary if you will, of the “language of shape”. They are called “The Geometrix”. They are a shift and a departure from the gestural work, but also contain residual remnant styles, shape, thought and emotion form prior works. I design them digitally and then draw the shapes on the canvas, then the painting process begins. I have been a graphic designer for over 25 years——the two mediums have now become a collaboration... a marriage of the digital virtual world into a two-dimensional surface world. The source of imagery comes from the choreography of metamorphosing organic shapes which embody and influence a formal relationship between structure, form, movement, tension, transparency, hierarchy, flotation, breath and exhalation. They are a ligature between contemporary art and mid–20th-century design.
ROSE MASTERPOL: THE GEOMETRIX
By Peter Frank
We regard the artistic idioms of the recent past with a peculiar combination of curiosity, longing, admiration, and condescension. We believe we have moved past them, and can dote on them like aged grandparents while raiding their closets. But such an exploitative approach to, say, surrealism, Art Deco, or hippie psychedelia does nothing but package these historical phenomena as nostalgic gloss. It does not show them the respect historical phenomena merit — nor does it investigate the vitality that can still pulse through them.
Rose Masterpol rejects this casual adoption or satirization of bygone styles; her interest in what has come to be known as “mid-century” art and design is not simply genuine, it is thorough and it is passionate. She does not want to steal pointers from Abstract Expressionism or Danish Modern, she wants to understand them to the point where she inhabits them. Masterpol is like a linguist reviving recently extinct patois — or, more accurately, like a poet trying to write in a language she knows as much through research as through memory.
Masterpol demonstrated her devotion to, and understanding of, postwar abstract painting with several series of gestural canvases begun while she was based in Los Angeles and continued after her relocation to Santa Fe. Indeed, she produced these expansive, choreographed tableaux until very recently, deciding only within the past year to put that approach aside and concentrate on her Geometrix. The need to focus on the new series is evident in the clear stylistic shift the Geometrix represent: rather than the painterly, “expressive” manner that has characterized Masterpol’s entire oeuvre to this point, the new series relies (as its name implies) on clearly defined color areas with sharply rendered edges, composed gracefully, and comparatively languidly, so as to achieve maximum poise.
If we look closer, however, and keep in mind various aspects of Masterpol’s previous paintings, we realize that the Geometrix do not demarcate as much of a turn from those more painterly works as first seems. Masterpol has certainly adopted a new way of painting, but it is a new way of exploring a given formal vocabulary, not a new vocabulary altogether. Throughout her mature work Masterpol has relied on line, and on a particular kind of line, one that floats and scurries, meanders and cascades across the expanse of the canvas until not just the armature but the entire structure of the picture has been defined. With their open, organic contours and eccentric but rhythmic diversions, the shapes predominating in the Geometrix are redolent of mid-century fabric and furniture design, and of sculpture such as that of Noguchi and Calder. We go back to her earlier series, however, and find many of the same shapes vibrating amidst the brushy clamor; hindsight allows us to regard these earlier formal iterations as struggling to come to the surface. In the Geometrix, they finally do.
Masterpol has also retained her carefully calibrated layering effects in the Geometrix. Now, instead of describing plane upon plane in a piling-on of brushstrokes and pigmental densities, she wafts one “skin” of flattened translucent color upon another, overlapping discrete areas like Venn diagrams and locking in these drifts and skeins with carefully situated opaque linear forms. Again, this formula echoes those at work in the previous series; but now, it results in a classic, elegant moment rather than an agitated event. The Geometrix still convey a sense of time, but in them time is no longer marked by Masterpol’s hand, but by a more transcendent natural time into which she seems to have relaxed.
The Geometrix mark a pivotal point in Rose Masterpol’s history. They clarify her thinking and her vision, in effect revealing the undercarriage of her aesthetic and reassembling the chassis. But, however reformulated and reinterpreted, the bones and the lines are the same. The same sensibility that undergirded its nervous marking with lucid flow now undergirds its lucid flow with an extra-corporeal sense of time. The references to postwar modernism are as knowing as ever — and in fact serve to alert us to the formal connections between Abstract Expressionism (notably Gorky, De Kooning, et. al.) and contemporaneous architecture and design (from Saarinen to Eames to late Frank Lloyd Wright). Masterpol has evolved, but she has not strayed, and her informed response to recent art history supports rather than drives her artmaking. Her passion, not her knowledge, is the driver.
Los Angeles / April 2019
"You are a hero in my mind. The art world needs you and so do we. Having more than 10 of your pieces in my houses brings me joy that you will never know.
Being a witness to the twists and turns in the progression of work throughout the years astounds me. Thank you for being you."
TIME + SPACE