review

Rita Bernstein
Undertow

Woodstock Times -August 5, 2010
Smart Art by Paul Smart


Caught in the Undertow

One can see the previous life Rita Bernstein, presently showing at Galerie BMG on Tannery brook Road through the middle of next month, in the quiet empathy that pervades the photographer's work.

"I began to photograph in earnest after I left my career as a civil rights lawyer," the artist says of her new life as a gallery artist of 20 years pedigree, with a growing reputation for the emotional intensity of her condensed vision. " I explored the sorrows as well as the sweetness of family life and, more generally, the ambivalence that shadows intimate relationships. Although my subjects have often been young people, it is not my intention to examine childhood specifically. Rather, I am interested more broadly in the complex mysteries of the human psyche. I find the uninhibited behavior of children to be a rich source of clues to the interior life generally; with awkwardness and eloquence, they experience the same psychological and social dramas with which we continue to struggle as adults.

Bernstein's exhibit, "Undertow", is made up of the Philadelphia-based artist's small intimate works, each a precious object, on the one hand, while simultaneously conveying a "strong mysterious and psychological narrative", as gallery director Bernard Gerson puts it. "There is a tension, a sense of underlying danger or vulnerability associated with the subjects in each image," he adds of his latest find.

As with all BMG shows, there's a contemporary quality to Bernstein's oeuvre, given its close focus and intent on finding universal meaning in the most personal of visions. But also something anachronistic and timeless in its condensed quality and blatant eschewing of the bigger-is-better gestalt of so much art these days. Combined with the erotically-charged works at Woodstock's third photo gallery, Photosensualis, Gerson's gallery - and his curatorial choices - augments the cutting edge push at the core of the Center for Photography at Woodstock's mission to not only round out our town's draw as a key center for the medium, but establish the grounds that's made CPW's upcoming annual photo auction the art world-wide success it's become in recent years.

" I chose a process and materials that were sympathetic to my intentions and my ideas," the artist says of her working methodology, seemingly speaking for so much of what BMG shows at the same time. "By brushing silver emulsion onto handmade paper, I am able to achieve a result that is tactile and sculptural. In both my images and my prints, I am courting the imperfect, the messy, the raw, and the vulnerable. The fragility of the paper and the unique blemishes and characteristics of the picture reflect the flawed beauty and the humanity of mu subjects".

These are rewarding photographs, beautifully presented and well-worth a look-see, as well as a place in any home collection for a sense of personal impact.++


PHOTO-EYE BLOG -September 7, 2010
Photographer's Showcase Artist Update


Rita Bernstein's work will be exhibited at Galerie BMG in Woodstock, NY September 10th to October 18th with an artist reception on September 11th. Bernstein's prints are stunning to see in person, delicate and textured. Bernstein achieves this look by brushing silver emulsion on handmade Japanese Gampi paper. The result is a photograph that is almost sculptural -- the surface of each image unique.


Hudson Valley Magazine September 2010 issue
Fall Weekends 2010


At Galerie BMG, Award-winning photographer Rita Bernstein presents “Undertow,” a collection of haunting black-and-white photos brushed with silver emulsion and printed on handmade paper. The result: images that are raw with emotional power.


finity / 54 September 2010 issue
written, photographed and published occasionally by David Vestal

Undertow: Rita Bernstein at Galerie BMG in Woodstock, NY

Rita's invitation card shows four diaphanous slips suspended luminously from coat-hangers. For some reason the edges of the prints are torn, not cut, and are not quite rectangular - a comment, not a criticism. The photograph is exquisite and the treatment seems entirely right. Rita Bernstein in consistently brilliant in her handling of light.