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Reviews/ Media Coverage

The following are reviews of the "Dark Times" exhibitions:

“Dark, brooding luminous shadows, whose depth hint at lurking dangers along the pathway. Brilliant light forcing the shadows to reluctantly retreat; light that seems revealing even sometimes restorative. Perspective defiantly thrusting into or out of the strictures of the picture plane. Images of pathos, sorrow, terror and longing to escape. Magnetic images, powerful images. Paintings that hammer the observer in place. One must not only see these pictures, one is compelled to ‘feel’ them.

“Ms. Riseborough practices within a long tradition in western art, whose members include Michelangelo, Goya, Van Gogh and Frances Bacon. These are artists who dared to look inward, and in so doing brought forth a collection of works that portray the agony of an individual soul. The true subject matter of these artists (including Ms. Riseborough) is the universal vulnerability of a single persona when placed against an act or actions that wound the very fabric of that being.

“These paintings must, in the final analysis, after confronting each of them, be saluted, for Ms. Riseborough has marshalled her formidable talent and skills and moral courage to engage us in a deep and profound experience of ‘High Art’.”

Fred Berger, painter and teacher, now deceased, Chicago,May 1997

 

“Through the development of representational imagery inherently autobiographical, Gay Riseborough’s art is both personally reflective and socially allegorical. Her paintings are skillfully calculated as presentations of introspective self portraiture in combination with places, objects and other people. As such, the likenesses of herself she includes in her imagery are always a part of some greater context, revealing much more than just her presence.

“Emotional themes of contemporary alienation, despair and oppression, especially the torments that accompany the ‘happiness’ of family life and ‘normality’, are the subjects of Ms. Riseborough’s work. She is straight to the point in naming her series of paintings ‘Dark Times’ (in the tradition of Edvard Munch’s emotionally charged ‘Frieze of Life’).

“Gay Riseborough is an accomplished painter, having mastered many of the classical techniques and processes of traditional representational painting. This proficiency allows her to present her subjects without the interference and awkwardness of offering her viewers anything that would distract them into considerations of her abilities. Her imagery is clear and detailed, especially in those areas she wishes to receive greatest attention. She paints to illustrate ideas, and she succeeds.

“Often her paintings are planned to visually reference other art. Old master compositions and even subjects (the ‘Pietá’), especially those which have become popular and conventionalized in their meanings, are appropriated to serve her purposes. This allows Ms. Riseborough to minimize ambiguity and control her painting’s content. Her works are not subtle. They’re directive and often demonstrate a sense of desperation in their boldness, but this is the basis of their power and inherent honesty. They function as visual equivalents to verbal and written exclamations – ‘this is it’ or ‘it’s this way’.

“The characteristics outwardly obvious in her paintings, including the self portraiture, are only beautifully constructed props in the visual theater she creates. Actually, the painful distractions of life she depicts are but secondary aspects, in light of what her paintings actually accomplish. They take us to "Dark Times" only as visitors, ultimately offering us roles as observers to a process of recovery and liberation. Ms. Riseborough enthusiastically offers us what she has learned about herself and others through her own lived experience. And while the lessons have been painful, the "advice" she conveys by her paintings is shared courageously and without apology. I find her works to be visually stunning, often with humor, and inherently optimistic.”


Ben Dallas
Retired Director Harper College Art Gallery
September 2002

 

“Gay Griffin Riseborough’s presentation of eight paintings from her "Dark Times" series was both inspirational and moving. The paintings are beautifully rendered, mindful of Carravaggio in the use of chiaroscuro. Color, drama, and striking luminosity give the images a three dimensional effect. Most of the work is large, making one feel a part of the scene.

“Davis Art Gallery is primarily a teaching gallery in a small women’s college. The students were moved – and intrigued by this work and several instructors gave writing assignments based on students’ impressions of the paintings. This exhibit was one of our more successful.

“Ms. Riseborough plans to continue working on this series, striving to work through emotions and events that have occurred in her life. The narratives in the pieces are left to the viewer, causing one to feel an air of mystery rather than complete understanding.”

Irene O. Alexander, Curator, Davis Art Gallery
Stephens College, Columbia, MO
July 2002