In her early work starting in the mid-1970s, Rita Ernst integrated geometrical elements and scriptural signs into square grids. Later she distorted these ordering principles and broke up the strict system, which also led to works that extended out into space. In the 1990s Ernst began to take a deep look at architecture and to transform ground plans into geometrical compositions. In particular the historical buildings of Sicily, both sacred and profane, served as her point of reference.
Rita Ernst has used the title Vanishing Point for a number of paintings, of which version II resides in the Marli Hoppe-Ritter Collection. The viewer’s eye roams about between various black dots, which as a result of their differing sizes give the suggestion of spatial depth. This effect is countered though by the picture’s flat background, which consists of rectangles in white, silver and pastel tones. The bright, airy impression has been arrived at by coating blue, red, yellow and green surfaces with a transparent layer of white. Loosely distributed over the canvas are, in addition, small dots in the same colours, which have not been painted over, as well as a few circles done in fine lines, and five delicately executed squares that are at first scarcely visible. A vanishing point cannot be distinguished: instead the viewer focuses on the black, visually dominant dots, which seem to grow smaller and finally disappear – like balloons in the sky.
As in the ground plans of historical constructions that reveal the position of lost sections of buildings, the various colours shimmer through the white coat overlying the rectangles. At the same time the colours of the picture ground look as if they have faded in the sun, as if Rita Ernst has deliberately allowed the primary and secondary colours to pale.
In Vanishing Point II the artist has circumvented the principle of perspective: the word “vanishing” in the title could be interpreted in the sense of “disappearing”. Although four consecutive dots gradually diminish in size as they proceed from the lower picture margin to the upper right, they have not been placed along an axis, so the viewer’s gaze fails to find its orientation. This work is about the search for a vanishing point, but the outcome remains open. What is clear, though, is that elements in the composition have been neatly arranged and set in line by the rhythmically distributed verticals.
1956 born in Windisch (CH)
Lives and works in Zurich and in Trapani (Sicily)