Rupert Deese’s suite of ten painted-paper editions are collectively titled Rivers & Mountains. These works extend the artist’s study of the shapes and colors found in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. Each work consists of painted paper, cut precisely to shape and assembled in pairs of colors, which are bonded to sheets of heavy Fabriano Artistico paper. Each pure, intense color and its pairing are carefully considered, and the artist’s hand is evident in the subtle textures and brush marks in the otherwise pristine surfaces. The edges of the cut paper are breathtakingly crisp, allowing each color to hold forth, and this stark transition between the colors intensifies their interaction.
While essentially abstract, these works have a close relationship to the landscapes and watersheds of California’s upper Merced, Tuolumne and Kern Rivers, distinct alpine areas beloved by the artist, which have inspired much of his artistic output. Rivers & Mountains transfer the contours and colors of the landscape into forms that are corollary presences: companions to the rivers and mountains, not pictures of them, and can be seen as a continued meditation on the configuration of this geography.