Whitehot Magazine

Francine Tint at the National Arts Club

Francine Tint, Bitter Blue, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Francine Tint: Life in Action

The National Arts Club

Through December 2, 2022

By JONATHAN GOODMAN, November 2022 

Late in her career, New York City artist Francine Tint is having a solo show at the National Arts Club. Educated at Pratt Institute and active as a painter since the 1970s, Tint makes broadly, energetically abstract expressionist paintings. They are notable for their gestural lyricism and freedom of movement. In this show of 12 paintings, called “Francine Tint: Lfe in Action” and curated by Robert C. Morgan, who has also contributed an essay to the catalogue, we have a sense of abstraction’s successful continuation, present now even after many years. Tint cites Larry Poons and Helen Frankenthaler as major influences, especially in regard to the use of bright color, something we immediately come across in Tint’s art. The show demonstrates the extent to which abstract expressionism can still vibrantly exist, at a good distance from the high point of the movement. The style, originated in New York City, remains a quintessentially urban statement, one large enough to support contemporary art made in a similar manner. Tint, a mature artist who has been working in the city for many years, doesn’t repeat so much as re-envision a way of working whose openness and enthusiasm continues our urban predilection for the animation, even the turbulence, of the street.

Francine Tint, Terra, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

Terra (2022), like all the works an acrylic on canvas, is dominated by a wide, brushy blue circle, just inside of which is a green circle, with an opening in the middle. The opening reveals brushy forms, while, on either side of the circles are inchoate shapes, mostly in black, that support Tint’s rounded shapes with a vertical orientation. What comes through first is the colorful energy we have come to expect from abstract expressionist work. Terra is nothing if not an exercise in non-objective painterly freedom. Tint’s colors don’t clash so much as they support each other in a  vividness remarkable for its lively optimism. This kind of work is quickly familiar to us; we know at once its origins. But Tint contemporizes her art by investing it with a free-form liveliness, advancing the language she has chosen. In Bitter Blue (2020), four blue columns, some of the curving slightly, stand and divide the composition evenly. The blue dominates the painting with a hue that can be brighter and darker within the same column. Within the three spaces resulting from the columns’ separations, darker abstract forms take place. Filed with black horizontal lines in the left space, a conical black shape in the middle, and a browh, amorphous vertical form on the right, these shapes act as buffers for the strong blue poles. Again, Bitter Blue is noticeable for its color. Tint is highly gifted in her use of color.

Francine Tint, WomanSoul, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.

The subtle, achieved painting WomanSoul (2022) offers a clay-red background, visible mostly on the bottom. White forms, of various shapes, angular and bulbous, take over the top of the painting, and also the lower right. Stretching along in the middle, a thin dark brown line occurs. The painting’s intuition makes it readily attractive, although it is not so easy to correlate the title, evidently a nod to a feminine, or feminist, sensibility, with the irrevocably non-objective nature of the composition. In abstract painting, many times the title is meant to guide the viewer toward a recognizable intent, as happens with the two works already described. In this case, it is harder to join the image to the intent. But that is of small matter, in the sense that WomanSoul, like Tint’s other paintings, conveys feeling and conviction. Tint is a skillful artist who is taken with a language deeply established in relatively recent art history. As an artist of unusual verve and conception, she is still able, at a considerable age, to provide her audience with the playful energies of incipient form. What counts in her work is her mastery of color, along with her commitment to forms notable for their originality and spirit. The combinations goes a long way to convincing her audience that her art retains its freedom and dynamic spark. WM

Jonathan Goodman

Jonathan Goodman is a writer in New York who has written for Artcritical, Artery and the Brooklyn Rail among other publications. 


view all articles from this author