reviews > Austin, TX

7/10/09 6:19 PM

The history of abstract painting is a strange one. How to get from the spatial radicalness of Picasso and Cubism to the revolutionary political aims of Rodchenko and Russian Constructivism to the expressionistic mode of Pollock and the Ab Ex? That the non-objective mode of painting manages to encompass so many divergent intentions, that it is open to such a variety of interpretations, explains, for one, its enduring appeal to painters, and, for two, how it has come to have a contemporary life as a wholly decorative medium. Witness the work of Tom Rouse, which plays with palette and texture, layering and transparency, ground and surface, bas-relief and shape, all to the end of constructing pleasurable and concentrated viewing experiences. Whether or not the experience will engage the viewer depends, of course, almost entirely on what tickles one’s aesthetic fancy—and I’ll admit that mine, at least, necessitates a less muted palette—but if the path from dusty rose to teal turns yours, then Rouse’s experiments might be just the thing.

—Lori Waxman