Los Angeles Times Friday, April 29, 2005
By Leah Ollman
Making the flood of images diverting
One of the occupational hazards of the postmodern artist is a lazy pull toward recycling images that have come before, in lieu of generating anew. Too often the practice delivers a kind of clip-art collage that indulges in contemporary culture's visual abundance without purposeful intent, criticality, poetry or humor.
The method, though, can also yield wonders. Richard Gate's new paintings at Ruth Bachofner are highly satisfying stabs at making sense -- but not too much --- of our everyday condition of sensory overload. They reconcile fresh and familiar, building rhymes and resonances among various modes of visual description. Gate's work is a matter of selection and combination as much as creation, and is guided by a sensibility that never goes slack. He edges each square panel with a crisp band of white paint that brings to mind the border of a photographic print or slide, a reminder that the artist is isolating something from a vast continuum.
Gate weaves together abstract lines and loops, photo-mechanically reproduced snippets of illustration and an assortment of opaque painted shapes and images in compositions that are consistently taut and texturally rich. Sections of rice paper collaged to the surface act as a veiling scrim, muting the volume in places. In others, pigment seeps into the grain of the birch panels and softly stains it. Patterns in nature, maps of force fields and medieval family trees might all appear in a single image. Gate's appetite for the visual world is omnivorous but disciplined enough to offer much more than just an uninflected mirror of what's out there.
Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 829-3300, through May 21. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Ruth Bachofner Gallery
Los Angeles Times March 7, 2003
By Leah Ollman
Art That Tests Our Openness
Gate's paintings elegantly crafted
Richard Gate's absorbing new paintings at Ruth Bachofner Gallery mimic the collage-like nature of our experience. We perceive the world and our place within it in multiple, simultaneous ways. Scientific inquiry overlaps with straightforward visual observation, which overlaps with understanding in terms of patterns and relationships. Gate's paintings capture that rich simultaneity in a form that sparkles with clarity.
Each of the 4-foot-square paintings has a wide white border like that of a photographic slide, which wraps the vibrant interior in a neutral frame. The imagery inside ranges from Xerox transfers of photographs of the ocean and enlarged lace patterns to linear maps of the stars and diagrams of the structure of a canoe.
Oak leaves and morning glories, palm trees and lacewings are all pictured in the form of text book illustrations or repeated ideographs. Astronomy meets astrology, physics neighbors natural history and maybe even autobiography.
Gate, who divides his time between Utah and rural Canada, treats the surface of each panel almost like a puzzle, interlocking modes of perception and, at the same time, modes of visualization. Abstract, geometric and representational all make their claims, with no one mode overwhelming the others.
Hard-edge shapes of opaque color (beautiful cobalt, persimmon, gold) echo areas where Gate has left the panel's wood grain bare, dyed it with a translucent hue or veiled it with delicate rice paper. Resonance abounds within the paintings, and after studying each a while, all the imagery coalesces into an orchestral tapestry of pattern, rhythm and directionality. These are elegant, tightly crafted works, entrancing for both the eye and the mind to wander through.