Figure Ground, Review by Kristen Beaulieu

Solo Show, Steven Tritt

Figure Ground, Solo Exhibition by Steven Tritt
Curated  by Rebecca George

April 2022

Exclusively at The Art House Gallery

A review by Kristen Beaulieu

Is it two profiles or a vase? An old lady or a young woman? Do you remember these classic illusions that first appear to be one thing at first, and then something else entirely? These illusions work because what perceive as the object and background is actually arbitrary and can shift in an instant.

Figure Ground is an apt title for this exhibit of black, grey and white paintings by Steven Tritt. As his series of works has evolved, Tritt has explored the notion of figure and ground, making us wonder what is in front and what is behind, and so our perceptions are constantly shifting.

Two wonderful paintings with an ambiguous figure ground relationship are High Horse, 2021 and I C Ghosts, 2021. Continuing this playful exploration of what's in front and what's behind, Tritt incorporates amoeba-like forms in the delightful Oliphants, 2022, Two Ears and a Tail, 2022 and Oddity, 2022.

This is an exciting evolution in Tritt's work but it is also a surprising shift in tone. Tritt's earlier work explored the themes of violence and the wanton destruction of the environment. Balloon Animals, 2021 marks the beginning this transition. In the earlier Bison, Legacy and Law & Order series, Tritt is not exploring the idea of figure and ground, but instead often modelling figures, human bodies or bison carcasses, that are actually on the ground. You can find very strong examples of this work in Body Count,2020, Bound, 2020 and Legacy, 2020.

Curator Rebecca George notes Tritt's work is full of dichotomies-- Representation vs Abstraction, Gestural vs Geometric, Flat vs Depth, Positive vs Negative, and Opaque vs Transparent—and Tritt claims no allegiance to either. So "this vs that" becomes "this then that" or "this and that" – all it takes is a shift in perspective.

Kristen Beaulieu
Art Critic, The Art House

View the exhibition here.