The Mesmerizing Abstractions of Frank Gerritz and Winston Roeth
The experience of viewing an artwork can be meditative, particularly when it entails entering into an visual space and submitting to a volume of depth and color. It’s an idea that holds strong in the case of Abstract Expressionist, Minimalist, and Color Field paintings. Take Rothko’s deep red, pulsating monochromes, or the expansive spaces of Agnes Martin’s compositions, for example. The minimalist works of Frank Gerritz and Winston Roeth, currently on view in a dual exhibition at Galerie Christian Lethert, in Cologne, wield similarly mesmerizing effects.
Both Gerritz and Roeth play with different combinations of color and line to explore their manifold effects on human perception. Roeth, for his part, arranges small monochromatic rectangular panels, painted in richly saturated hues, into grids. Each work has a different color scheme and scale—some are comprised of four panels, others 16—and the effects vary. I’ll Take You There (2014), is a towering combination of 16 panels in pinks, yellows, blues, and blacks of fluctuating intensity. The lighter pink and yellow panels at the core of the grid reveal the patterns inherent in their wooden substrates, and like energy fields, the lines of the wood grain emanate towards the outer rim of dark panels. The effect of exuberant color moving towards a shadowy edge is hypnotizing, like a sunset shapeshifting into a night sky. What’s more, as light hits the panels at different times of day, they become less matte and more luminous, like mood rings.
Gerritz also uses light to activate his his minimalist forms. In both his drawings and paintings—black and white geometric compositions of intersecting or abutting lines—he incorporates materials that reflect and capture luminosity. His works on paper—hard-edged shapes rendered in dark graphite and intersected by thin white lines—shimmer with an unexpected dimensionality. In paintings like Four Center Split Screen III (2015), bands of black and white build vertically on an aluminum panel. When exposed to light, dark areas transform from flat fields to deep, reflective wells of space.
Walking through the gallery, the visual dialogue posed between the work of Gerritz and Roeth, between darkness and the illumination of light, calls for complete contemplation—a state in which the viewer’s self may be reflected or absorbed.
“Frank Gerritz, Winston Roeth” is on view at Galerie Christian Lethert, Cologne, from Sept. 4–Oct. 24, 2015.