Exhibition Statement – The Dot: Contemplating Universal Mysteries

Esther Ritz’s Statement on her Dot paintings:

“Over the years I often incorporated dots in my paintings. About a year ago, however, I found myself becoming more and more intrigued with them. Intrigue became fascination, which became obsession. I began immersing myself in all sizes, colors and varieties of dots. No matter how I started out, the dots took over. Each tiny touch of the brush to the canvas was a unique experience. Each moment demanded my entire attention. The dots became a form of focus. I felt centered, and more alive. I was amazed at how a simple dot combined with a myriad of other dots transformed the painting, creating new depth and movement and even vibration. The dots provided new challenges too – how many different ways could they be used?! The possibilities seemed endless. There were infinite ways to interpret this universal symbol.

This “Dot” series is an ongoing exploration of my experimentation with color, shape, line and contrast using this simplest of symbols, which is yet complex enough to express a universe of thoughts and emotions.

Curator’s Statement on Esther’s Dot paintings:

Contemplating Esther’s Dot paintings, I am reminded of a conversation I had with a Pakistani artist who had written his entire Ph.D. thesis on the dot (‘nuqtah’, in Urdu). “When the universe itself came into being, it started as a ‘nuqtah’” he said to me. “And it will collapse back into a dot when it ends”, I finished his sentence.

“Islamic mystics, better known as Sufis, have for centuries used the dot as a symbol to represent God and His oneness, be it in poetry or art or in their teachings”, he added. According to Islamic mysticism, we need only deeply contemplate the essence of the dot in order to understand the mysteries of the universe and the Divine. But according to this philosophy, before we can even begin to aspire to commune with the Divine, we must first gain an understanding of the self. And understanding the self requires deep introspection.

Coming from a land steeped deeply in Islamic mysticism, it came as no surprise to me at all when Esther described her intuitive, introspective, contemplative process for expressing her innermost thoughts and feelings on canvas, that eventually this process should have led her to expressing herself in the form of dots.

The Divine is inside each one of us, in our hearts and souls; we need only find a way to reach it. It seems to me that Esther has found hers.