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Rebecca Reeve
Upfor, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer


Rebecca Reeve, "Sun Breathing #6," 2018, archival pigment print, 30 x 37". Photo: Mario Gallucci. Courtesy of the artist and Upfor

Continuing through March 2, 2019

At first glance, the strange chromatic effects in Rebecca Reeve’s “Sun Breathing” may remind us of Richard Mosse’s well-known infrared photos of lush landscapes and political upheaval in equatorial Africa. But the London-born, New York-based Reeve has a wholly different technique, not based on infrared film. Last summer during a residency at Stone Leaf Retreat in the Catskill Mountains, the artist took to the woods with non-toxic powdered pigments to spray-paint ferns, logs, stones, and twigs in a spectrum of vivid colors. She also brought along similarly painted Venetian blinds, which she hung from supports hidden just outside her camera’s viewfinder. The resulting body of work counterposes images of the screens against images of spray-painted vegetation in sumptuously beautiful, conceptually engaging pairings.  

The images of screen-blocked forest-scapes and unblocked woodland tableaux complement one another in ways that suggest respiration: closed/open, open/closed. The effect references Reeve’s interest in the waning/waxing cycles of the sun’s magnetic fields. The bracing reds and yellows of “Sun Breathing #1” and “#6,” respectively, both obscure and heighten the organic scenes behind the screens. Rarely does a conceptual device result in so seductive a visceral effect. Reeve varies the Venetian-blind conceit in her “Looking Through” series, in which she methodically deconstructs a maroon-colored blind into origami-like compositions in front of a scrim-veiled mountain expanse. That all these effects are created in-situ and in-camera only intensifies their thematic and sensual appeal.


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