‘Nightfall’ @ William Turner Gallery

May 2, 2018

At the William Turner Gallery, Curtis Ripley was presented in an exhibition titled Nightfall. And the series resembles much of the surreal dreamstuff. I can only describe Ripley’s works as being akin to Dalí but with austere abstraction rather than whimsical figurativeness. And the efforts are simply enticing.


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First, what enables each composition to be thought of as dreamy is Mr. Ripley’s steadfast attention to creating a blurred, foggy background to each work. We are then challenged to think of ourselves as vividly dreaming – of being self-aware of the disbelieving sensationalism, that any concepts or images that come our way is purely transcendental.


Is that a sound presumption of what it feels like to be dreaming? Are dreams not nightmarish too, where the sunset brings a sense of fear of being traumatized? The cultural approbation for dreams rests mainly in their sanguinity. It is abnormal for common dreaming to be dreadful; it is natural for the unrealistic to be captivating rather than menacing. Thus, we can approach Mr. Ripley’s foreign concepts in the dream ether with wonderful curiosity rather than resistance.


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Brilliantly inventive, miniscule, almost teasing wisps they are which flirt with the canvas. We do not know the reason they are. Neither does the artist. He happens to paint them where they need to be without a rationality. And yet, paradoxically, they do possess: order, harmony, logic. Even if we do not know the logic of the cause of their being, we can see, much like in nature, a sense of reason for them to each individually be according to their own design.


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And Mr. Ripley does not bore us with redundant geometries. Each composition is like its own universe, with geometric objects as phenomena uniquely surfacing. Some in corners as a patch of chaos, some as marbles aligned invisibly, and some as chromatic landmarks. The only changing aspect of each work is the aforementioned ethereal background – this cosmic soup uniquely engenders the very stuff of transcendence: unseen order made coherent in the mind of man. Accordingly, Mr. Ripley has achieved a wonderful feat.


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