Sylvia Roth: Paintings and Monoprints


Sylvia Roth: Paintings and Monoprints 
The OUTSIDE IN Piermont, NY

Sylvia Roth, founder of Hudson River Editions, is a painter and master printer who has worked with the likes of Karen Finley, Richard Pousette-Dart, April Gornik, Alfonso Ossorio, and John Chamberlain. Among her many early brushes with greatness was Roth's study of painting with one of my all-time favorites, Philip Guston, at New York University.

Her exhibition here at The OUTSIDE IN features a nice selection of paintings and prints. The gallery itself is unusual because it is relatively close to New York City, but it looks and feels more like a place of business you would come across in Woodstock, New Paltz, or Rhinebeck in upstate New York. The three spaces, which once housed the greenhouse and storefront of a local florist, are now filled with one-of-a-kind hand-crafted furniture, earthy ceramics, and objects d'art. Hanging on the walls of the central space are the works of Roth.

The first thing you notice when viewing Roth's work is her obsession with nature -- flowers in particular. However, this isn’t your garden-variety type of floral painting where beauty rules the roost. These paintings are soulful, spirited, and at times darkly moody. "Exotic Orchids" (pictured above) is a perfect example. Here, Roth builds a very fleshy, Frida Kahlo-like representation of a selection of orchids that look as much biomorphic as they are plant-like.

Overall, Roth's emotive albeit fluid brushwork is the most important aspect of her art. In such works as "White Orchid" and "Dancing Orchid" we see the main subject emerging through a dark and somewhat lifeless field. Using numerous transparent layers of acrylic paint Roth colors in both the subject and the background, cutting back, building up, and reshaping the subtle forms of the leaves, stems and pedals in a painless battle of borders.

One monoprint, "Young Spectacled Owl," really stood out because there is an equally intense battle going on, as the one I mention in the paintings. In "Young Spectacled Owl," the fighting is between the fluffy cloud-like feathers of the bird’s head and breast, and the intensely piercing effect of the stare of the owl, and the powerful gripping claws. This approach to art making that Roth employs, where textures, shapes and spaces collide speaks of the variable relationship nature has with us humans. A relationship we all too easily overlook when we no longer take the time to get in close like Roth has done here. Sylvia Roth: Paintings and Monoprintsis an exhibition that suits this space, and this gallery along Sparkill Creek perfectly. - D. Dominick Lombardi

Mr. Lombardi is an artist with representation at the Kim Foster Gallery in New York, a writer with Sculpture and d'ART, and an independent curator.