Whether it’s Paul Cezanne’s The Basket of Apples or Caravaggio’s Basket of Fruit, we’re sure you’ve seen more still life paintings than you can name. But we’re also certain that you haven’t seen a still life quite like Rade Petrasevic’s interpretation of the genre. Rade, who lives and works in Vienna, decided to pursue art after leaving school at 14 as “there was no opportunity to study anything else”. The Austrian artist now spends his time reimagining and revising the traditional still life through his delicate and deceptively simple large-scale drawings of chairs, vases, flowers and sculptures.
“I like repetition and simple associations,” the artist says. “When you look at my still lifes, you will see very mundane objects that are reminiscent of classical still lifes: apple, vase and bottles.” Despite his traditional subject matter, Rade’s strength lies in his ability to be creative and innovative with both his modern, aesthetic style as well as his resources. Rade doesn’t limit himself to paint on canvas. Instead, the artist sources a number of unconventional materials like shower curtains or line-like boards from Ikea and other furniture shops.
To ensure that Rade chooses his desired colour palettes, the artist imagines all possible variations before putting paint to paper. “I spend most of my studio-time sitting on a chair and looking at a painting with a stupid amount of determination. This process can take anything from a few hours to some months. Fortunately I can work on different paintings at the same time so the process isn’t quite as excruciating as it sounds,” he says. It is this meticulous process that renders Rade’s paintings so visually compelling; the harmonious colours and bold compositions prompt the viewer to attentively study each element of the large-scale drawings.
Once Rade decides on the colours, his creative process is solely intuition-driven. “My aesthetic style is inspired by the impassioned moment when you’re arguing with your mum, your drug dealer or whoever and proceed to grab a marker and let your aggression manifest on the paper,” Rade explains. The harsh, impulsive brushstrokes strengthen the contrasts created by Rade’s predominant use of primary colours. For this reason, Rade’s disorientating paintings often require some physical distance to make out their subject matters. Rade even admits; “Sometimes I get a real headache when I look at my paintings. There is such a colour overload. But truthfully, I quite like the idea that a my creations can cause a physical reaction in people.”
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