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.

Exhibition Images

These are a selected group of works and installation photographs from the exhibition. For a complete list of available works please contact us.

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

About Karen Rifas

Karen Rifas (Chicago, b. 1942) lives and works in Miami. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at: Emerson Dorsch (2017), Meeting House Gallery (2016), MDC Museum of Art + Design (2015), De La Cruz Collection (2010), Pinnacle Gallery, Savannah College of Art and Design (2007), Polk Museum of Art (2004), and Museo De Arte Comtemporaneo, Panama City (1993). She has also exhibited in group shows and presented the following projects: Transphysics, Art and Culture Center, Hollywood (2017), 100+ Degrees in the Shade: A Survey of South Florida Art (2015), MIA-BER, Berlin Arts Club (2014), Following the Line, Girls’ Club (2012), I Triennial, Santo Domingo (2010), globe>miami<island, DC Museum of Contemporary Art (2002) and The Bass (2001). Rifas is represented in various permanent collections, including The Bass (Miami Beach), Fairchild Tropical Gardens (Miami), Metro-Dade Art in Public Places Trust (Miami), Museo de Arte de Ponce (Puerto Rico), Museum of Contemporary Art (North Miami), Perez Art Museum Miami, and Valencia Community College (Orlando). She is represented by Emerson Dorsch and previously taught at New World School of the Arts.


Learn more about this artist.

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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.