Art in Review

Huston Ripley: 'Drawings'


Published: September 15, 2011

Adam Baumgold
60 East 66th Street, Manhattan
Through Oct. 8

Drawing with a fine-point black pen in a sweet, cartoonish style, Huston Ripley creates entrancing, densely crosshatched and patterned compositions resembling a hippie's version of cosmic Hindu painting. He works on sheets of tissue-thin Japanese paper, some as large as posters. The generally symmetrical compositions have outer edges of concentric, rectangular bands like those of Oriental rugs. Within these borders, figurative elements emerge from irregular but always richly profuse patterning: heads and nude bodies of long-haired women and bearded men; human reproductive organs; and snakes, eggs and skulls. Though repetitious, they are hypnotic - addictive even - to look at.

The mesmerizing effect comes partly from an identification with Mr. Ripley's absorption in the process of drawing. His approach might be likened to meditative prayer or chanting that precipitates an opening of ordinary consciousness to a mystical dimension of archetypal forms, personae and relations in transcendental space. He channels and integrates these into a holistic fabric backed by the universal yin-yang of male and female and their mutual sexual attraction.

Mr. Ripley's mood is comic but sincerely so. He is not a Postmodernist skeptic satirizing the possibly pharmaceutically inspired clichés of New Age romance. Following his own bliss, he weaves an infectious, optically captivating, spiritually infectious tapestry of Gnostic revelation.

A version of this review appeared in print on September 16, 2011, on page C31 of the New York edition with the headline: Huston Ripley: 'Drawings'.