Steven Rhude’s ex­hibit takes a unique homage

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - WOLFVILLE

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.

WENDY EL­LIOTT

This large and colour­ful nude is one of the eye-catch­ing works in Steven Rhude’s new ex­hi­bi­tion at the Har­vest Gallery in Wolfville.

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