Charles Dee Mitchell
Rudolf De Crignis at Peter Blum

Nine ultramarine-blue paintings (all 2000 or 2001) hung facing one another on 
the walls of the gallery's deep rectangular space. The installation established 
a quiet pulsation, the result of the two sizes in witch Rudolf De Crignis paints 
his monochromes-either 60 inches square or 30 inches square-and the subtle 
but distinct variations in color. Yet the paintings reveal themselves not as an 
installation but on an individual basis.
 When you are looking at any single work, its intense blueness overwhelms the 
variations in color apparent in the overall view. Although the description of each 
work details the colors that have gone into its composition, it is unlikely that 
you will thinking about phthalo turquoise or cinnabar green when looking at a 
particular work. Not that De Crignis disguises or buries his technique. You are 
aware that the paintings have been built up of carefully applied and exactingly 
sanded-down layers of translucent paint. Gallery information notes that up to 
40 layers can go into a single canvas. As light passes across the surfaces you 
can see the evenly applied brushstrokes of the final layer, but the specifics of 
this technique do not become the focus of your experience.
 The attention that De Crignis lavishes on his surfaces finally dissolves them. 
Each painting appears to be generating its color as part of an active, ongoing 
process. They draw you in, and you experience them in terms of depth-something 
is rare in contemporary painting. To speak of depth suggests that De Crignis is 
dealing with a kind of painted illusion, but it is more accurate to think in terms of 
a specific optical effect. Defining the mechanics of that effect is ultimately a 
thankless task. It is difficult to imagine these in many ways gentle paintings 
demanding anything of a viewer, but they do finally succeed in eliciting your 
acquiescence to their beauty. When you stand before one of them, you allow it 
to establish a place that, for the time you spend there, is exactly where you want 
to be.

Art in America, October 2001