Richard Pitts   -  Cut Time

Since the 1970s, landscape has served as either framework or subject while the acquisition of meaning has shifted toward the viewer.  Richard Pitts continues to explore the various metaphors inherent to the natural environment, suggesting that art is not only bridged with life but is also a product of it.  In creating this new series of free-standing, abstract sculptures the artist lends form to the notion of placeless-ness, rendering a series of aesthetic intersections where personal narratives commune with the visual.  Intended for both interior and exterior sites, Richard Pitts’ new selection of colorful, metallic objects free up the art experience even further by utilizing the tenets of formalism to touch upon a deeper sense of “being” in the world.

Pitts has expanded into the third-dimension by forging the drawn line into a single, hand-held object.  Extending this idea onto a series of surfaces that echoes the thick, black line seen in his earlier work, the artist compiles a series of randomly tailored surfaces that connect with one another to represent either frosty, wall-hung, starburst shapes or tall, wing-like forms.  “Treasure Hunt,” for instance, comprises an intricate network of blue painted steel, black painted wood and a core of shiny bronze.  The lyrical lines set forth from the black and blue surfaces frame an unformed scrap of bronze that functions as the heart of this work, symbolizing both discovery and combustion.  “Winter,” on the other hand, features a contrast between blue and silver steel surfaces that have each been stretched, bent, chiseled and coiled upon a line of wood that the artist coated in black paint.  In both cases, Pitts utilizes the drawn line as a springboard for sculptures that attempt to draw on their own, within the scope of physical space.

The proposition of automatic movement within stasis continues in several, tall forms that extend from the ground and outward in several directions.  “Sword Fish,” features three sharp forms colored in a range of blue and purple hues that are ribbed with black paint.  Each extension reaches up to the sky while attached to a fluttering jig-saw shape that reflects a combination of bright red, yellow and orange.  The perception of movement and a sense of serenity immediately sets in.  Similarly “Sea Side,” consists of a similar combination of warm colors but stands upright with various fragments either folding in or curving downward.  While paint lends a sense of naturalism to an otherwise stoic surface, it quickly becomes a secondary feature following the visual experience that it creates.  Pitts’ eloquent construction of abstract animations reaches an apex in “Rube’s Watch,” where shades of red, white, black and yellow clash together in this multi-faceted vortex that spins out in multiple directions while standing stationary.

Two additional wall sculptures titled, “Dragon Fly,” and, “Sea Horse,” reflect a minimal application of white paint and patina that work together to compete with the unpainted but evenly dashed steel surface.  Much like Abstract Expressionism, movement replaces any suggestion of visual illusion, building upon Pitts’ effort to physically abstract the notion of atmosphere or ambiance into a static, three-dimensional form.

Richard Pitts’ new sculptures are complex in that they symbolize time or, more simply, the thought or feeling of a particular moment.  In 2001 Pitts began breaking down the painted figure into a series of panels that fit together in a puzzle-like fashion.  This gradual separation of colors appeared five years later in a series of tall totem structures that reflected a variety of juxtaposing colors, patterns and textures, which were separated by a thick, undulating black line, echoing the construct of stained-glass windows.  However in giving shape to a series of metaphysical characteristics that are rarely captured within figurative painting, Pitts has moved the idea of sculpture away from its multi-layered, object-based history and toward one’s personal mythology.

by Jill Conner

New York City
April 2009

Jill Conner is an art critic and curator based in New York City.  She is currently the New York Editor for Whitehot Magazine and writes for other publications such as Afterimage, ArtUS and Sculpture.

Exhibition and collection: www.richardpitts.com/exhibitions.html

Richard Pitts Resume