Karen Rifas: Per Forms

September 1 - October 14, 2017

Reception: September 1, 2017, 6 - 9pm

Karen Rifas experiments with the effects of color contrast on the perception of space.

Selected Works

Karen Rifas: Per Forms

Emerson Dorsch is delighted to announce Karen Rifas’ first show with the gallery, “PER FORMS,” opening Friday, September 1, 2017 from 6 to 8 pm. There will be a performance at 7pm. Rifas will present a vinyl floor drawing in the midst of vivid new paintings on paper. From above, her installation will look much like her works on paper, which create “impossible space” with flat geometric forms and color.

Karen Rifas’ new paintings on paper line the walls of the gallery. Rifas experiments with the effects of color contrast on the perception of space. Combined with the interplay of converging lines or irregular polyhedrons, the resulting compositions have an astonishing variety and range of references, from textile patterns to art historical standards. We often forget that color reveals its power over time. That is, look at vivid colors and shapes for 30 seconds, then look at a white space. The colors will have burned an echo into the image you see in the second. Likewise, one can track Rifas’ ability to see throughout her year of of experimenting with the effects of color and composition.

Rifas has a theory that viewers may experience the same analog snaps that she does while drawing by moving benches around a 12 x 12 foot floor drawing. The spatial experience simulates the optical one, reinforcing the malleability of perception.

During the opening the floor drawing will also be a stage for a choreographed dance performance, a collaboration with Dale Andree, a pillar of Miami’s dance community. The dancers will enact a re-arrangement of the right-angled benches into various patterns. Having danced as a child and later as a mother and grandmother of dancers, Rifas worked with choreographers to dramatize how her forms are perceived as solid, even though they are only suggestions of mass.

This body of work continues from the principles in Karen Rifas’ most visible works in public and private collections throughout South Florida. The wonderfully ephemeral installations consist of dried oak leaves strung on taut threads. The dappled shadows these works cast contrast with the lines’ precisely drawn geometric volumes, contracting minimal and natural references into a signature sculptural vocabulary. Since making these works, Rifas has exhibited more thread drawn volumes and also an extensive body of works on paper, which assert an exacting linear pattern with variations in balance and symmetry. In these works, which she made throughout her career, we see how she animates lines in space.

Karen Rifas frees herself from the conventions and limitations of pure abstraction without abandoning the love of formality.

Virtual Tour of Per Forms



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Due to COVID-19, we are open by appointment. The gallery will follow social distancing protocol and allow only a certain number of visitors per appointment.