"Rudolf de Crignis / MATRIX 245"

When: Wednesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through May 5 2013

Gazing at a painting by Rudolf de Crignis, one cannot help but assume a suspect posture. Did we not dispense with the monochrome square back in the Sixties? On what merit do thirteen such works, in varying shades of blue and gray, make up a whole exhibition today? Granted, de Crignis' works are not monochrome per se, but rather agglomerations of thin, semi-transparent washes of various oil pigments -- ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, royal blue, copper, zinc white, dianthus pink, cinnabar green and others -- that, layered meditatively and extemporaneously over the course of several weeks, add up to a seemingly pure hue. That's something, and perhaps it does account for the paintings' special qualities of shimmer and depth. But what really makes this exhibition, de Crignis' first solo show in the United States, worth seeing does not inhere in individual paintings at all. As the artist says, "[the paintings] are just catalysts to create the space and the light." Indeed, these canvases frame an ambience of sensuous grip; once inside, for reasons hard to articulate, it becomes very difficult to leave. Matrix 245: Rudolf de Crignis runs through May 5 at Berkeley Art Museum (2626 Bancroft Way, Berkeley). 510-642-0808 or

Alex Bigman

Price: $10

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