"Ethel Gittlin’s new body of work, “Full Circle,” emerges from the natural world, but in it reality is abstracted and transformed. The colors and patterns seem to float across each canvas like leaves on the water. Crisp, delicate and organic, the shapes are self-contained, yet in harmony with their surroundings. We may think we decipher blossoms, seeds or pods, but, on closer inspection, the brilliantly hued figures refuse to be pinned down. They are familiar, yet alien. One senses their origin in the forces of nature, but the artist’s individual sensibility is clearly at work here, molding the motifs into larger, flowing patterns.
The power of these paintings lies as much in Gittlin’s use of negative spaces as in her use of positive ones. While the shapes suggest organic structures, it’s the space in between that defines the forms and provides them with an environment. In 17th-century Japan, Ogata Korin and his followers in the Rinpa school pioneered a subtle and sophisticated use of negative space in the sumptuous designs they painted on lacquer ware, scrolls and screens. This vision, in which the form of what is not there is as important as what is, influenced generations of Asian artists and, by the late 19th century, had spread across the globe to influence the work of the Impressionists and their descendants. That sensibility is evident in the work of Manet, Degas, Cassatt and many in the generations that followed." ** - Mona Molarsky
** Mona Molarsky is a writer based in New York City. She has written for Art News, City Arts, The Nation and many other publications