We’re all aware that those around you are the ones that can influence you the most. For Brian Rideout, an artist currently residing in Toronto, Canada, his father did just that. “My dad was a candy pack designer, so ideas on design and communication were always floating around the house,” Brian tells It’s Nice That. As a child, too, he was continuously painting and drawing – “I’ve never really had any other interest in any other work.”
Now, Brian spends the nine-to-five working as a painter at his studio in Toronto. “I collect a lot of books and also a lot of online research – I’m happy to grab an image from anywhere really,” he says. Motivated by the pictures that he finds and their historical relevance, his portfolio – including the recent series, American Collection Painting – is filled with astounding replicas of luxury interiors, architecture, still lifes and, most poignantly, art.
The likes of Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró are scattered throughout Brian’s work. Placed eloquently in their lavishly decorated setting, it’s a scene that one can only dream of visiting – the colours, composition and reproduction are hauntingly perfect, serving as a harsh yet beautiful reminder that these art collections will most likely never enter the public realm again. Defining his process, Brian says how it’s the art that catches his eye first: “Through these images, we get a chance to see artworks that may never become publicly available again. We gain a deeper understanding of how art and collecting function today.”
In preference to the imaginary, the art of replication is what Brian strives for: “I’ve never thought that art had much to do with the imagination,” he says, “more so observation, depiction, communication and documentation.” Instead, he’s more interested in the images we share as a culture, rather than “what goes on in [his] puny little brain.”
Alongside this literal approach to painting, Brian likes to keep a critical eye on what he’s transferring to canvas. On the topic of his American Collection Painting 34 (The Vista), he explains how the piece derived from an interest in the history of interior painting – “how it relates to the history of landscape painting, how that relates to where and how we spend our time now compared to the past, and how these rooms and spaces have become frames for the landscape outside.”
Elsewhere, Brian has ventured into a new series of still life paintings – “all different book covers that I use as reference material”. His Still Life with The Office Book is the source for the first of his interior series, Drawing Room Interior. His American Collection Painting 32 (Rothko) sees the artist contemplate the difficulties of trying to recreate someone else’s work – such as how that work is then “affected by its surrounding, the light, shadows, reflected light around it”. And, of course, there’s going to be some difficulty if that someone is a famous abstract impressionist. But, for Brian, it’s a great learning process.