Steven Rhude’s exhibit takes a unique homage
It takes talent to paint buoys and naked women on the same canvas and pull it off.
Wolfville artist Steven Rhude will prompt a chortle and make you think with his new works at the Harvest Gallery in Wolfville.
Entitled ‘Painting as an Art,’ the exhibition opening runs a bit of an artistic gamut. Take in the show for the buoys and ponder his imagined portrait of the Mi’kmaq god Kluskap holding a chunk of amethyst.
Years ago as an art student, and later as a young graduate in Toronto, Rhude recalls every gallery seemed to hold an attraction for him.
“Convincing myself that something wonderful is waiting to be seen is becoming difficult now that the digital revolution has created an explosive cocktail of virtual galleries and visual imagery.”
“Channelled through myriad websites and social media, painting has become a post-art activity, by and large a culture in which visual language is framed by appeals to emotion disconnected from the nature of experience, and by the repeated assertion of the ‘like’ button to which skill and insight are summarily ignored.”
Indeed, we no longer go to art - art comes to us, Rhude would assert. “So much so that even the materials that painters use have become unknown quantities to most people, and equally so, a painting, once a tactile object, has become known more virtually, on a flat screen, than an object of materiality to be experienced in the flesh, or in the round.”
“With the invention of photography in the western world,” he suggests, “painting’s day in the sun more or less came to an end. Photography unequivocally altered our view of contemporary life and allowed every man to view and translate his world without relying on a skills based tradition like painting as a medium for outside interpretation.”
“Painting has stubbornly survived photography’s reign,” Rhude believes. “It has charted its way through multiple ‘isms’, persisting to this day still with the potential to appeal to the individual,” he says.
“Furthermore, it’s easy to forget that in such a rapidly paced and noisy world, painting is still a valued art for cultural reflection, and that above all it requires a substantial amount of intuition, thought, and silence by those concerned with its making.”
The works in the Wolfville show document some recent thematic subjects in Rhude’s painting practice. Of particular interest is the genre called ‘homage to the artist.’ Ironically relying on art books and today’s digital source material, he reflects on master works that have remained tactile in his memory over the years, contextualizing them using the figurative properties of the regional fishing buoy, says Lynda Macdonald, who owns Harvest Gallery.
“I did 11 homage works in total for this exhibition,” Rhude says, “yet still have several others in mind for the future. All so far, are related to the modernist movement beginning with Manet and continuing on through to Picasso, Matisse etc. I made no attempt to ‘reproduce’ or achieve a faithful representation of the inspired homage, but instead just worked to get some kind of resemblance without obsessing about fidelity.”
The show runs until June 19.
This large and colourful nude is one of the eye-catching works in Steven Rhude’s new exhibition at the Harvest Gallery in Wolfville.