On ViewUpsilon Gallery
The Sky is a Mirror
September 7–October 14, 2023
I suppose there are two ways to title an artist’s exhibition: one might be in direct relation to the artist’s work, while the other could provide a more poetic context that conveys a thematic position. The title of the exhibition soon to be on view at Upsilon Gallery operates on both levels, but either way it holds a certain level of significance with respect to the artist’s point of view. Indeed, some find it difficult to locate the paintings of Francine Tint at either end of the spectrum, often suggesting a juncture where the objective and subjective aspects of her paintings are not so easily divided.
More to the point, there is nothing to calculate in Tint’s work that cannot be intercepted by feeling. While some observers might disagree with this sensibility, others more familiar with the artist’s paintings will not miss her extroverted point of view. Tint’s extraordinary visual tenacity questions the regions of competence that others may take for granted. Indeed, she is the kind of master who knows and depends on her prerogatives. In her case, exaggerations are for the most part unnecessary. Rather her paintings entail a certain modesty as to how she works and thinks in the process of working. She is an artist not only within the realm of displaying her paintings for others to see, but an artist within a zone of deliberation—meaning she thinks the way she feels without confusing the two. Despite her abstractness, it requires time to view any of her paintings. One cannot see her paintings in a single glance. To come to terms with such highly personal paintings as It Won’t Let Me and The Cruel Share of Memory (both 2023) requires extended moments.
Why does this seventy-year-old artist remain somewhere outside where her bravura career belongs? Francine Tint knows painting on all sides, even as her chosen direction has been abstract for decades, and I would argue that her style of painting has virtually nothing to do with the art of the 1950s. To make this clear, one needs to look at her paintings as paintings—not on the computer screen. Her method of painting does not emphasize the rigorous strokes used by the members of the Abstract Expressionist group. Rather she gives more attention to the presence of light in her work. In fact, this rejuvenation of light in relation to abstraction should be an important contribution to painting—now—in the early twenty-first century. Such emphasis on the perception of light in her work has become what some critics might consider an untold signature. Off-hand, I would encourage readers to give some time to paintings such as Fluid Approach and Room of Mirrors (both 2023) where color is made steadily available to the mind’s eye. These paintings are not easily forgotten. Light helps in the process of remembering.
One more quality of Tint’s paintings that I find happily persuasive relates to the limitations of language in the process of trying to translate the artist’s work into something other than what it is. Among the critics who have come to terms with this somewhat problematic dilemma, I find the writing of David Ebony most convincing. In effect, the pours of paint, the linear drawings, and the subtle collage additions are what they are and therefore manage to discourage the use of unnecessary academic language. Bleeding Hearts (2022 and 2023) is a major painting in the current exhibition, which does not require an overdose of language. This is a virtue, if it can be attained. Francine Tint is aware of this every inch of the way, and that is what puts her in a class unto herself.