A Light Version of Abstract Art

By: Neil Kendricks   San Diego Union, July 22, l993

Abstract paintings have a tendency to be either too preoccupied with formal issues or too intent on shouldering conceptual content that isn't in the work itself.  Fortunately, Bay Area - based painter Tim Rice's abstractions have avoided these pitfalls by focusing on what this sort of painting does best: depict various states of light.

After all, all paintings are to a certain extent about light trapped on canvas via the artist's palette.  In Rices's new series of works (now on display at R. B. Stevenson Gallery, 7427 Girard Ave., La Jolla,)  he has taken this to heart by capturing light as if it were something tangible, a lonely object somehow out of reach.  In his painting Tiorati (sky-like) it is as if light is bouncing off a liquid surface, tinted green.  This piece, like most of Rice's work, has a contemplative mood without burdening the viewer with shopworn abstract expressionist jargon.  All the viewer needs is to spend time with Rice's beautiful abstractions in order to soak up the subtleties of the work.

     In the painting The Stranger Becomes Brother, Rice gives us a sense of being in an underwater cave.  Although the painting has an extremely dark range of colors. The piece produces a calming rather than a claustrophobic effect.  Using a variety of materials such as oil paint, wax and enamels, Rice's paintings are soothing without trying to be pretty or overtly decorative in the process.  The surfaces often look worn and eroded as if the light Rice wanted to share with the viewer were slowly filtering out of a closed box.

     Viewing a series of dark paintings about light might sound like a contradiction in terms, but that is exactly what Rice has managed to pull off.