Lester Rapaport “Outside / Inside”
David RIchard Gallery
Jan. 17, 2023 - Feb. 10, 2023
LESTER RAPAPORT Outside / Inside
January 17 – February 10, 2023
Opening Artist Reception:
Saturday, January 21, 2023 from 3:00 to 6:00 PM
David Richard Gallery, LLC
508 West 26th Street, Suite 9E | New York, NY 10001
P: (212) 882-1705
NOTE: The number of people in the gallery at any one time will be limited for safety purposes due to the pandemic and face coverings are required for entry and at all times
Private viewings are available by appointment, please call or email the gallery to schedule.
David Richard Gallery is pleased to present Outside / Inside, an exhibition by New York-based artist Lester Rapaport and his third solo presentation with the gallery in New York. The exhibition is comprised of eight paintings from two distinct series (four paintings from each series) that were produced nearly 40 years apart. Not only is there an aesthetic interaction between the two bodies of work, but also a conceptual underpinning binding them together such that each represents an endpoint (at this point in time) of a long and ongoing spiritual journey for the artist. To emphasize the significance and interaction between the two series of paintings, they are presented in pairs, one earlier painting from the 1980s hung alongside a newer single disc painting from the 2020s. At first glance, the color palettes seem to be the only thing holding the two, otherwise disparate, compositions together, but the artist’s journey creates a much bigger picture comprised of the two series.
The earliest series, Gifts to the Universe, painted in the mid-to-late 1980s (years 1983-85 are presented in this exhibition), represents Rapaport’s “awakening” in spiritual terms. This series began his intensive meditation practice, bringing him wisdom and serenity at a “micro” or “inner” level as well as elevating his consciousness through reading about the theory of relativity, astrophysics, and psychology as he contemplated his place in the cosmos on a “macro” or “outer” level. The imagery in this earlier series is bold, full of vibrant colors, fluorescence, and animated gestures across the canvas. More important, at Rapaport’s early stage on his path to enlightenment, the painted imagery is meant to emulate and picture the complexities of space, time, intricate workings of the human mind (micro level) with overlapping layers of information, processing sounds, multiple visual stimuli, and memories as well as the external environmental provocations surrounding humans 24/7 (the macro level). Thus, the earlier series is about “looking” and “seeing”, both the world around Rapaport and within his mind and soul.
The two series of paintings represent different periods in Rapaport’s life and spiritual progression using meditation and evolving his mindfulness to reach a higher level of consciousness and awareness. Aesthetically, the newer paintings created since 2020 from the series, Into the Mystery, “reflect and inhabit an integrated, centered, balanced, emotional, but quiet sense of being. Both series are investigations and aids for exploring an expanded consciousness,” according to Rapaport. The new paintings immediately produce a calm in the viewer with their ethereal, often muted, and subdued, palettes as well as the single, centrally located, floating orbs. The lack of complexity, uniform compositions comprised of primary shapes and soft hues immediately lower the visual stimuli and function as meditation centers.
As an artist, Rapaport could not resist channeling the imagery and teachings of art history’s masters to help him picture what is hard to explain in words. In the earlier series of paintings from the 1980s, Gifts to the Universe, picturing the complexities of space and creating the illusion of spatial depth, Rapaport was inspired by: the drips, automatism and layering of Jackson Pollock; the multiple and simultaneous views from the Cubists; and Henri Matisse’s bold use of color and form as well as leveraging positive and negative space to create strong figure / ground relationships. Regarding the newer paintings from the series, Into the Mystery, Rapaport was very moved and inspired by the brushy, pillowy soft, ethereal, dream-like surfaces produced by Mark Rothko and his large canvases.
About Lester Rapaport:
Rapaport (b. 1947), born and raised in New York City, earned his BFA in 1969 and pursued graduate studies at Hunter College. Initially trained and concentrated on figurative painting and drawing, by the late 1960s he switched entirely to abstract painting. The 1970s were a bit of a lost decade for the artist due to health issues and other personal matters. However, he reemerged in the early 1980s and has consistently produced challenging and inter-related series of abstract artworks that he has exhibited mostly in and around New York. His strongest affiliations have been with Westbroadway Gallery in New York and Sideshow Gallery in Brooklyn.
About David Richard Gallery:
Since its inception in 2010, David Richard Gallery has produced museum quality exhibitions that feature Post War abstraction in the US. The presentations have addressed specific decades and geographies as well as certain movements and tendencies. While the gallery has long been recognized as an important proponent of post-1960s abstraction—including both the influential pioneers as well as a younger generation of practitioners in this field—in keeping with this spirit of nurture and development the gallery also presents established artists who embrace more gestural and representational approaches to the making of art as well as young emerging artists.
In 2015 David Richard Gallery launched DR Art Projects to provide a platform for artists of all stripes—international, national, local, emerging and established—to present special solo projects or to participate in unique collaborations or thematic exhibitions. The goal is to offer a fresh look at contemporary art practice from a broad spectrum of artists and presentations. The Gallery opened its current location in New York in 2017.
Copyright © Lestor Rapaport
Courtesy David Richard Gallery.
All Photographs by Yao Zu Lu