Artist News Update|
His line traces the lineaments of a lively and erudite mind, giving it a physical presence. His line records touch and embraces materiality, revealing an alternately stern and playful character. Rabkin’s soft-edged hand-stitched line wanders across the plane of an early work as unselfconsciously as one of nature’s own creations. The artist’s use of yarn is unexpected, full of pathos and a vulnerable, earthy beauty.
Lines in grids are ever-present in Rabkin’s artistic enterprise. Some grids of wire are pristine, razor-thin, taut and elegant. Others are fragile, softened by time, interwoven with worn colored cloth, yielding and emotionally resonant.
Rabkin is adept at the seldom practiced art of flocking. He lays down a cloud of textured, colored filaments onto an array of two and three-dimensional surfaces. His flocked pieces have an otherworldly charm, their glow coming from a matrix of deep, light-consuming linear fragments of color spinning from a vortex, landing as a nearly opaque storm cloud of dense, blue, black or red. The result is always dramatic. The process itself, he has remarked, is full of thrilling surprises.
The curved edges of his early canvas constructions reach out into space, cutting the air as they move against the light. Later on in his life, Rabkin floated fragile wires in space, watching their edges and shadows dance in the changing moods of day and night. Long admired and studied by several generations of artists here and abroad, Rabkin’s oeuvre is yet to be fully investigated. Knitting together the resplendent variety of his work: the theatrical boxes; the dusky pleated watercolors; the colored Lucite constructions; the loopy flocked calligraphy, is the ever-present structural role of line. It is the pulse, the voice, the backbone of his art and it shines in this cogent selection from Rabkin’s idea-filled, seminal career.
Susan C. Larsen, Ph.D.
Please click here to view Leo Rabkin: Paintngs and Shadow Boxes as Sculptural Images, a catalog from the artist's exhibition at the Storm King Art Center in 1970, with an introduction by Una E. Johnson, curator of prints at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1941 - 1969.