Robert C. Morgan | The Brooklyn Rail | ArtSeen | September 2023

Francine Tint:
The Sky is a Mirror

September 7 – October 14, 2023

Upsilon Gallery
23 East 67the Street, 3rd Floor

Reviewed by Robert C. Morgan


I suppose there are two ways to title an artist’s exhibition: one might be in direct relationship to the artist’s work, while the other might be a more objective poetic context that conveys a thematic position. Either way, the title potentially holds a certain level of significance pertaining to the artist’s point of view. Some find it difficult to separate the paintings of Francine Tint at either end of the spectrum. Nonetheless writers are often obliged to go with her work in one direction or another, often suggesting a juncture where the objective and subjective aspects of her paintings cannot be so easily divided.


More to the point, there is nothing to calculate in her work that cannot be intercepted by feeling. While some observers might disagree with this innocuous sensibility, others familiar with the artist’s paintings well enough will not miss her extraverted point of view. Rather Tint’s extraordinary visual tenacity doubts the regions of competence that others may take for granted.  Indeed, she is a kind of master who knows and depends on her prerogatives. In her case, exaggerations are for the most part unnecessary.  Rather her paintings entail a certain modesty as to how she works and thinks in the process of working.  She is an artist not only within the realm of  hosting her paintings for others to see, but an artist within a zone of deliberation –  meaning she thinks the way she feels without confusing the two. Despite her abstractness, it requires time to view any of her paintings. One cannot see her paintings in a single glance. To come to terms with such highly personal paintings as It Won’t Let Me and The Cruel Share of Memory (both 2023) insist on a reign of extended moments, each of which can be followed to the nth degree.


Given this essay is about her current paintings, this introduction intends to have  a designated role in terms of what Tint paints and how she paints. It might also raise the question as to why this eighty-year-old artist remains somewhere outside where her bravura career belongs.  Francine Tint knows painting on all sides, even as her chosen direction has been abstract for decades.  Given this conundrum, I would argue that her style of painting has virtually nothing to do with the art of the fifties. To make this clear, one needs to look at her paintings as paintings – not on the computer screen.  Her method of painting does not emphasize the rigorous strokes used by the members of AE.  Rather she gives more attention to the presence of light in her work. In fact, this rejuvenation of light in relation to abstraction should be an important contribution to painting – now – in the early twenty-first century. Such emphasis on the flotation of light in her work has become what some critics might consider an untold signature.  Off-hand, I would encourage readers to give some time to paintings such as Fluid Approach and Room of Mirrors (both 2023) where color is made steadily available to the mind’s eye. These paintings, among others, are not so easily forgotten. Light helps in the process of remembering.


One more concern related to Tint’s paintings that I find happily persuasive, that being the limitations language incurs in the process of trying to translate the artist’s work into something more than what it is. According to the work of critics who have come to terms with this somewhat problematic dilemma, I find the writing of David Ebony most purposefully convincing. In effect, the pours of paint, the linear drawings, and the subtle collage additions are what they are and therefore manage  to avoid the use of unnecessary academic language. Bleeding Hearts (2022 and 2023) is a major painting in the exhibition, which does not require an overdoes of language. This is a virtue, if it can be attained. Francine is aware of this every inch of the way, and that is what puts her in a class unto herself with paintings, fortunately made available to an audience capable of sharing some of what they have learned and experienced openly with one another.

1 September 2023
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