How to look without touching, see without getting too close? The surfaces of Rhonda Gates’s paintings hint at the distortions of Zoom lenses, the disruption of metal bars, the pixelation of screen images, the mesh of a screen door—intermediaries ever-more commonly found between humans and the natural environment. The two-dozen meticulous oils in Distillation of Space, on view this winter at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, would be op-art playful if not for the insertion of dense graphite deer, mountain, tree and bird silhouettes. What are we missing by spectating from afar? Conversely, what are we saving from ourselves and saving ourselves from? Distance, as no one living through pandemic restrictions needs reminding, has both its advantages and its disadvantages. Now is indeed a time to consider the aesthetics of alienation.
—Lori Waxman 2021-01-27 4:37 PM