Rebecca Campbell : painting is erasing

Infinite Density, Infinite Light

May -June 2021 LA LOUVER Venice CA

REBECCA CAMPBELL, Reflection 2021 oil on board 36 x 48 in. Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venice CA
REBECCA CAMPBELL, Beautiful Boy 2019 oil on board, 18 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venica CA

El tiempo es la diversa

trama de sueños avidos que somos

y que el secreto Soñador dispersa

Time is the manifold 

texture of avid dreams that we are

and that the secret Dreamer dissipates

Borges

ROSANNA ALBERTINI Painting is deceiving. I ended up loving being unsettled in front of paintings I see for the first time, almost lightheaded. Like heaving to burst a dam, a barrier: that is not my world, not even the same colors I see. Each brain is hit by light in a personal way, we have our own colors within. The artist has hers, I hope she doesn’t believe we see them. Something similar. That’s why I let my whole body exposed to the paintings and wait. I wait for the heart beat. 

Rebecca Campbell paintings are the second skin of her life. She expands through the texture of time, feelings and light. Members of her family, the first boyfriend, images from the memory appear as her brush made them, as if guided by a state of mind that floats in midair. Gestures and tasks of every day are erased, what remains are symbols.

Feelings of the present wrapping an imags of the past: a friend passed away and the following day Rebecca made a painting of a family member when he was a boy, a beautiful boy holding four puppies, but the painting is the symbolic portrait of the dead friend’s kindness. The touch of pink beyond the edge of the house gives the mood of the piece: a twilight that once was dawn. “Purification and oblivion.” 

“What texture is this

of will be, is and was?” 

(Borges)

 That texture can be painting. I thank you Rebecca, for the constant displacement and mysterious tension you gave to each of these pieces.  Feelings remove from the scenes the certainty of only one moment in time. Time flows like light that makes the landscapes fluid, dissolved by colors, the seashore a repository of air and transparent secrets, almost ready to give birth. 

REBECCA CAMPBELL, Still Waters 2020, oil on board 36 x 48 in. Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venice CA
REBECCA CAMPBELL, Kin 2021, oil on board 36 x 24 in.
Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venice CA Photo RA
REBECCA CAMPBELL, Nature Boy 2021, oil on canvas 60 x 110 in. DETAIL
Cortesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venice CA Photo RA
REBECCA CAMPBELL, Nature Boy 2021, DETAIL
REBECCA CAMPBELL, Passage 2021, oil on board, 36 x 24, DETAIL Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER. Venice CA Photo RA

Painted humans seem to keep their features steady; their visage, their body defies the pressure of time. Not their story, which remains untold. Children are almost swallowed by exuberant bushes or trees so luxuriant and dense they could hide them forever, or clasp them in the density of ponds. Marvel and fear are tight together. In real life children share with nature a surprisingly fast and untamed transformation. As if an act of magic had given life to them. As if their growth, their unique figure had been prepared by the same secret Dreamer who refuses to be detected in any physical configuration, except his creatures. Shells, trees or humans are the development of His/Her/Its nature. Each destined to the same kind of measure, the only thing we know says Carlos Williams, each trying an infinite number of dances.

The flower dies down 

and rots away  . 

But there is a hole

 in the bottom of the bag.

It is the imagination

which cannot be fathomed.

It is through this hole

we escape   .   .

(William Carlos Williams)

Is it the children presence in some paintings that makes the brush strokes lighter and lighter? melting foliage into soft clouds, spreading veils of luminous gold, a dry rain of painted light may be the artist wishing to preserve forever the beauty of a moment? It was, already. Is and will be. Shaken in the memory’s bag, at every instant they are not the same. 

REBECCA CAMPBELL, Trevin 2018, oil on board 36 x 48 in.
Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venice CA Photo RA
REBECCA CAMPBELL, Vanta Envy 2021, oil on canvas 75 x 51 in.
Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venice CA Photo RA
REBECCA CAMPBELL, To Have And To Hold 2019, oil on canvas 75 x 51 in.
Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venice CA Photo RA

Patterns. Adult life. Search for an order of things. Everything that mind can build: good, rough, perverse, uneven, smooth, hard. Rebecca has recently introduced patterns into her paintings. Soft and benevolent. The white young men wearing a white shirt doesn’t care if colors and lines from the pattern behind him go through his body. A smiling face. The woman sitting on a chair wears the pattern in her silky dress, and the regular texture might help her to face the opacity of the black box she holds in her hands. A disturbing darkness sits on her laps. A man wears a blue pattern, the woman next to him had a sudden De Kooning style transformation. The contrast is striking. 

REBECCA CAMPBELL, Radiant White 2020, oil on canvas 88 x 109 in.

Through Rebecca’s artwork, the order of things, geometry  we rely on to make sure our feet are still on the ground and our head is not spinning, progressively adapts to the human body, expands and mutates. It becomes a cluster of bodies softly falling asleep on one another. The magic touch of her painted images. Not a crossing of straight lines: every shoulder is a pillow for a head giving up with awareness, heads become heavy, slipping into sleep. Geometry is only a mental thing, living bodies gladly forget it resting in their round, fleshy, heavy physical presence at the edge of light and dark, of black and white.

“Between dawn and dark lies the history of the world.” (Borges)

  “Nature gave to Raphael the gift of painting the sweetest and most gracious expressions on faces”  Vasari wrote a few centuries ago. I would write the same about Rebecca. Not only her skill equals the old masters, here and there she adds to these contemporary portraits a cut of the scene on the right side which brings into the painting the colors of time, in which eternity quivers. 

REBECCA CAMPBELL, Look Up 2020, oil on board 10 x 8 in. Courtesy of the artist and LA LOUVER, Venice CA Photo RA

BIBLIOGRAPHY

JORGE LUIS BORGES, In Praise of Darkness, transl. by Norman Di Giovanni, New York, Dutton & Co., Inc., 1974

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAM, Paterson, 1946. A New Directions Book, 1995

GIORGIO VASARI, The Lives of the Artists, New transl. by Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peyer Bondanella, Oxford University Press, 1998