The party of portraits that Luke Rudolph is currently exhibiting at the Kate MacGarry gallery pack quite an expressive punch. Ranging, according to the gallery, from the “convivial to the furious” the likes of which I personally identified as “obnoxious”, “suspiciously curious” and “politely oblivious” in the emotive mix – such is the pareidolic power of these works that they’re bound to evoke something different from everyone.
Their size and their making are a wondrous thing. Tall-man-high and depicted in unfathomable layers that trick the viewer as to depth and planes. They look digital, or rather, aesthetically, are part of something very now. Indeed the process of their making would suggest that they could not have been made at any other time even if they do recall some of the abstract and expressionist works of yesteryear.
The highly methodical, labour-intensive process begins with a pastel to fluoro colour gradient sprayed onto canvas and then covered with the wide, gestural brush marks. Next, Luke photographs the canvas; digitised he can now work experimental geometrics and sine-like perfect curves on to the more impulsive marks. These shapes dissect each other in blocks of colour – revealing the base at times, masking it at others – all the while, a freeform yet meticulously designed image is emerging.
By the time the artist has painted the digital plan back onto the now remarkably textural canvas with an apt “photoshop” precision, a unique take on portraiture is complete – drawing as it does on the high-culture of the past combined with the digital media of the future.
Luke Rudolph will be exhibitng at London’s Kate MacGarry Gallery until July 14.