"[Rachel] Rickert, a contemporary painter working in Brooklyn, depicts figures in intimate, domestic settings, with an emphasis on gesture and ritual. In Soft Boundaries (2019), now on view at Danese/Corey Gallery in Manhattan, a woman stands in a tub, arms over her head as she yanks off a semi-transparent T-shirt. The woman’s stance is wide, with the grounded, muscular weight of Toulouse-Lautrec’s model; her body is spackled with light—it strikes her exposed breasts, the bright plane of her thigh. One imagines a skylight above, a fluorescent light, a window.
Rickert’s twenty-first-century bather is in the act of exposing her body—the eye lingers on the planes of her torso, rendered in confident strokes, where light breaks across her form. In Rickert’s depiction, there’s the feminist independence of Cassatt and the physicality of Toulouse-Lautrec; the open sensuality of Hashiguchi Goyo and the emotional coloring of Bonnard. Her bathroom is an in-between space, too—the image is divided horizontally by the curtain, which hides and reveals. Like Cassatt’s bather’s, her face is hidden; though the viewer is invited to look at her body, the T-shirt, stretched over her head, protects her private internal world.
What strikes me most about Rickert’s bather is her agency: the control she has over the painting. Even the title, Soft Boundaries, alludes to how much we choose to let someone into our private space. And the most dominant element of the painting may not be the bather herself, but the golden curtain, shimmering with a pattern reminiscent of scales. Rickert’s bather chooses to reveal herself, to share her intimacy. But the curtain suggests that at any moment it can be pulled away." (Larissa Pham, The Paris Review, March 28, 2019)