Kayla Rumpp's Celebration of Color and Shadow

Images courtesy of the artist

Soma - Kayla Rumpp

Channel to Channel Gallery - Nashville TN

December 4 - 26, 2021

by Lachlan Hinwood

January 1, 2022

Kayla Rumpp's exhibition Soma is a kaleidoscopic feast of color. Her bright as candy surfaces have a high degree of finish, and are painted flatly with matte acrylic paint. Occasionally, Rumpp leaves traces of her hand in a wavering line or a visible brushstroke, which never lets the work feel industrially produced. Soma is Rumpp's second solo show with Channel to Channel, and the gallery's final exhibition in their modestly sized Nashville location. The show features seven new sculptural paintings which range in size from 11 to 120 inches.


There is a playful-formalism that reveals itself slowly when looking at Rumpp's paintings. Fina, approximately two feet by two feet, is constructed from a series of overlapping wooden boards. The work gradates left to right from blue to light teal, interrupted only by shadows cast from the varying height of the board. Three thin outlines of violet, yellow, and purple each perform their own value shifts as the colors travel around the piece. These changes in value are subtle, at first glance appearing to be unchanging stripes. Rumpp's use of color is smart and mathematical, placing her work in conversation with historical and contemporary hard edged abstract colorists. A funny blend of visual languages, Fina speaks to Joseph Albers and Beverly Fishman as much as it does to the iconography of iPhone emojis.

Fina - Kayla Rumpp - Acrylic on wood - 2021

While Rumpp's work is serious, self assured, and unwavering in its exploration of color and shadow, titles clue to viewer into a practice based in play. Xenzia, standing approximately 120 inches tall by 18 inches wide is titled after the popular snake game released on Nokia mobile phones in the late 90’s. Like all of Rumpp's painting, Xenzia is able to hold and sustain multiple readings. Formally, the work brings to mind games like hopscotch and Jenga. The painting is built from a series of small polyurethane rectangles stacked horizontally on top of each other, forming the impression, but not function, of a modular whole. Recurring ovals in the center of each rectangle slowly changes from pale green to a deep rust color through the length of the painting. A gradient from white to gray surrounds the central color as the gentle dimensional curve of the painting slithers from the floor up the wall. While not monumental in scale, the painting is significant in its engagement with the gallery's architecture.

Xenzia - Kayla Rumpp - Acrylic on XPS board - 2021

Kayla Rumpp's attention to color and shadow is sincere, rigorously developed, and at times quite funny. Not to be missed, Soma reminds us of the depth that can come from the exploration of a singular idea.

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