An otherworldly allure hovers around Rasmus Eckhardt’s paintings, whether the scenes are depicting a late-night subway ride home that has blurred into a dream or more confessional images like getting high out of a hotel window and exploring parks much too late to be safe. All of the people we encounter in the Danish artist’s new exhibition, Manhattan Fall, are ghostly-faint and impermanent, having become washed-out versions of the memories that inspired them. In Eckhardt’s world, subtle hues of orange, burnt red, blue, and soft green envelop and then merge characters to their backgrounds. The paintings are static documentaries telling stories that are open-ended and fluid enough for us to jump and make our own.

A perfect title for a rock album or sultry novel, Manhattan Fall feels appropriate for paintings documenting a riotous and self-reflective lovers’ getaway in New York City. Serene and diaphanous images present a relationship spiraling in and out of control while imbibing in the darkness and magic of the city that never sleeps. There is partying, crazy love, and ethereal moments experienced by a couple on a wild holiday adventure abroad. All of the paintings are hazily rendered and present a city full of wonder but also tiptoeing toward chaos and danger.

Eckhardt’s intimate paintings are created with soft pastels on wood and capture actual moments lived, many on the edge. Memories of NYC days and nights filled with excess and passion are expressed through the lens of a hyper-creative imagination and uniquely soft hand. These chronicles of a romance unfurling, and the adventures surrounding the fall, are abstracted and blurred to the point of becoming a symbolic language. The soft pastel colors are applied, manipulated, burnished, erased, and then reapplied by hand until the images become completely atmospheric and unarguably poetic.

Colors fade in and out of saturation and deftly mix with the various patterns of the composite-wood planks used to capture Eckhardt’s softened representations, which allows us to create our own stories and narratives. The paintings are filled with a sublime beauty that highlights the earnestness of the artist’s endeavors and the lives he has lived, and the poetry of his works is bound to a reality we can feel but never completely understand or grasp.

Rasmus Eckhardt (b. 1982, Denmark) lives and works in Copenhagen. He has exhibited widely in Europe, with his most recent solo exhibition presented at Collaborations, Mallorca in 2023. This is Eckhardt’s second solo presentation with Shrine and his first solo presentation in Los Angeles.