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Brian Rutenberg LAKE



Brian Rutenberg Lake

April 26 - June 15, 2019

Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | tel 505.988.3250 | cover: The Lobster (detail), 2018-19, oil on linen, 44 x 62 inches

Brian Rutenberg: Lake I was born on September 18th, 1965 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and soon took my first steps on blistering sand. September is the hottest month in the Palmetto State where the four seasons are Summer, Hurricane, Christmas, and Azalea. I paint the landscape in the same way I learned to see it, by lying on my belly with the tide foamed around my chin, watching fiddler crabs scurry across puddles of pale mud, feeling warm iodine air pool in the pots of my eyes, adrift in the wakefulness of living things. Seeing from a bug's-eye view instantly compresses space, like closing an accordion, and makes the viewer complicit in reconstructing the landscape; I provide the close-up and the far away, the viewer supplies the middle. This is nothing new. The Canadian Group of Seven painters from the 1920s and 30’s eliminated middle ground to give the spectator the impression of being in direct proximity with the raw power of nature and, in the words of poet Seamus Heaney, "catch the heart off guard and blow it open." There is something about coastal life that has a profound effect on the treatment of light in the paintings of the artists who live (or lived) there. Tiny water droplets suspended in the air lend the light a liquid opalescence, a blue quality that is both pervasive and unifying. Witness the works of the Hudson River School, the Provincetown painters, the California Impressionists, the Newlyn School (who painted along the rugged Cornish coast of England in the early 20th Century), or Eighteenth Century Venetian painters like Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, whose late work looms large in this new body of paintings and works on paper for LewAllen Gallery titled Lake. I believe that Tiepolo was the inventor of modern painting. Late Gothic and Early Renaissance painting relied on value, the modeling of light and dark, to depict the appearance of three-dimensional space. That, coupled with the invention of linear perspective, created the illusion of the natural world; it looked just like the real thing. But, although it appeared genuine, Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Classical, and Romantic painting were all in denial of their artifice, making them endlessly rich and fascinating. Perspective is a convention which standardizes the depiction and repetition of figures or objects in space, but it is still abstracted because the painter relies on subjective judgment to prioritize information. The more realistic the image-the faker the picture. Then, something fascinating happens in the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens in the Seventeenth Century and Tiepolo in the Eighteenth. Around 1730, Tiepolo moves away from a value-based system (light/dark) to 2

one of intensity (bright/dull); away from describing form to spreading light. He became my guide. Instead of traditional shading, Tiepolo juxtaposed two colors of equal intensity side by side, one for light and one for shadow. That equanimity of intensity created detonations of energy that dart the eye all around the composition, taking in big gulps of information in a single scan. Color went from a descriptive role (filling in the lines) to expressive and elastic. Tiepolo was harvesting seeds planted by Titian and Giovanni Bellini one hundred years earlier. As a port city-state, Venice in the Golden age was a crossroads of ideas and goods such as exotic spices, pigments, fabrics, and oil mediums. These mediums allowed Venetian painters to experiment with glazes and achieve effects with light and translucency commonly associated with Northern European art, which they were fully aware of. Color as a visual experience itself began to gain traction in Venetian altarpieces and portraits. Unlike the broad chromatic ranges of Florentine palettes, early 16th C. Venetian paintings use more limited arrangements of color, but with higher saturation points. Instead of relying on line to render form, patches of pure color, applied skin over skin, became form. The flat picture plane was no longer denied but embraced as a realm of invention in itself. Flatness was primary to modernism. Any Mount Rushmore of modern painting would include Francisco Goya, Eugène Delacroix, Édouard Manet, and Paul CÊzanne, but I hold Tiepolo in a slightly higher place. Through the vigor and facility of his brush, oil paint was no longer just a delivery system for narrative, but a celebration of artifice. He bent the laws of nature to fit the laws of art. The painter's hand isn't concealed through careful blending but exposed in the creative act, allowing Tiepolo to create not a likeness, but a thereness. When we project our vitality onto something separate from ourselves, we confront otherness. All great art puts us in this state of poetic externalization because we bear witness to the artist overhearing him or herself in the moment of creation as if the work is being made as we look at it. We encounter art overhearing itself in the famous "To be or not to be" soliloquy from William Shakespeare's play Hamlet in which the audience experiences Hamlet's thoughts and feelings without him knowing we are there. But this is nothing new. Art was invented the moment one human being drew another on a cave wall in ice age France twenty3

seven thousand years ago. For the first time, we could stare at someone else’s face without being implicated. Before, when a baby cried, a lover laughed, or a bison got pissed off, it prompted a reaction from the observer. Those cave dwellers probably knew what their faces looked like from reflections in water, but it wasn’t until they drew an image of one that we saw ourselves for the first time. Art is participation without implication. We are conditioned to be attracted to the natural, artists are expected to mimic the appearance of nature, but we are not matchers, we are makers. We must embrace the lie; it’s the difference between Ludwig van Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, in which he casts impressions of nature, and his mighty Ninth, which bubbles up from inside him. Eighteenth Century poet and librettist Pietro Matastasio wrote, "Dreams and fables I fashion; and even while I sketch elaborate fables and dreams upon paper … I so enter into them that I weep and am offended at ills I invented. But am I wiser when art does not deceive me?" There's a reason the first three letters of the word artificial are art. The word art comes from the Latin artem meaning the “join” or “fit together.” Paintings aren’t created, they’re made. An oil painting is crushed rock mixed with liquified fat and smeared on cloth; all of the content sits on the tip of the brush because there isn’t room there for anything else. When I stand before a painting, I’m not interested in the accuracy of appearance but the lie of artifice, because that tells me that someone loved me enough to have made this thing for me to see. And, if they've paid exquisite attention to detail, to intent and execution, it means they had a high opinion of all of us. Art happens when the intellectual and visceral collide head-on at 200 mph; when thinking and feeling smash so violently into one another that they fuse into a third thing. That's what I’m after, that slippery, elusive third thing. There is no room for the landscape in a landscape painting, it must be violently ripped out to make room for the third thing. Only the viewer can turn it back into nature. It’s taken me forty-five years of painting to realize that art doesn’t give, it takes. Brian Rutenberg, March 2019 New York City


Freshwater, 2018-2019 oil on linen, 30 x 24 inches



Lake, 2018-19 oil on linen, 38 x 76 inches



Yoke, 2017 oil on linen, 60 x 82 inches 9


Peal, 2017 oil on linen, 55 x 68 inches 11

Garden 2, 2018-19 oil on linen, 62 x 44 inches 12

Garden 3, 2018-19 oil on linen, 60 x 40 inches 13


Before Rain, 2018 oil on linen, 40 x 60 inches 15


Freshwater 2, 2018-19 oil on linen, 24 x 30 inches 17


Sea Light, 2018-19 oil on linen, 52 x 68 inches 19


Garden, 2018-19 oil on linen, 44 x 62 inches 21


Flying Point, 2016 oil on linen, 60 x 82 inches 23

Night Herbs 6, 2018-19 oil on paper, 30 x 22.5 inches


Night Herbs 4, 2018-19 oil on paper, 22.5 x 30 inches 25

Night Herbs, 2018-19 oil on paper, 22.5 x 30 inches 26

Night Herbs 5, 2018-19 oil on paper, 30 x 22.5 inches 27


Night Herbs 2, 2018-19 oil on paper, 22.5 x 30 inches 29


Night Herbs 3, 2018-19 oil on paper, 22.5 x 30 inches 31

Brian Rutenberg

b. 1965, South Carolina

EDUCATION 1989 MFA, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY 1987 BFA, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2019 Lake, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2017 Clear Seeing Place, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM Forum Gallery, New York City, NY (also 2014, 2011, 2008, 2005, 2002) 2016 Peter Marcelle Project, Southampton, NY Bannister Gallery, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI 2015 TEW Gallery, Atlanta, GA 2014 Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit, MA 2012 Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC 2011 TEW Galleries, Atlanta, GA Franklin G. Burroughs – Simeon B. Chapin Art Musuem, Myrtle Beach, SC The Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA 2009 Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC 2008 Toomey-Tourell Gallery, San Francisco, CA 2007 Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, NC Galerie Timothy Tew, Atlanta, GA 2006 South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC David Lusk Gallery, Memphis, TN 2004 Cress Gallery of Art, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, TN 2003 John Raimondi Gallery, Vitale, Caturano & Co., Boston, MA 2002 Tippy-Stern Fine Art, Charleston, SC The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, Colorado Springs, CO 2001 Butler Institute of American Art, Warren, OH Hidell-Brooks Gallery, Charlotte, NC 2000 Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, Ireland Schmidt-Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA Toomey-Tourell Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1999 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Gallery, Toronto, Canada 1998 Burroughs-Chapin Museum of Art, Myrtle Beach, SC University of South Carolina-Beaufort, SC

1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992

Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, PA Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, NY Halsey Gallery, College of Charleston, SC National Library of Canada, Glenn Gould Exhibition Website, Ottawa, Canada Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, NY Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington, NC David Klein Gallery, Birmingham, MI Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC Fridholm Gallery, Asheville, NC

AWARDS 2004 Fellowship in Painting, New York Foundation for the Arts 2000 Peter S. Reed Foundation Award 1997 Fulbright Scholarship Artists Work Programme Studio Grant, Irish Museum of Modern Art 1991 Basil Alkazzi Award USA Ragdale Foundation Fellowship 1988 MFA Scholarship Award, School of Visual Arts 1987 Laura Bragg Memorial Award MUSEUM COLLECTIONS Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY Asheville Museum of Art, Asheville, NC Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL Burroughs-Chapin Museum of Art, Myrtle Beach, SC Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, NC Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA Naples Art Museum, Naples, FL Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, NY Ogden Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA St. John’s Museum of Art, Wilmington, NC Springfield Museum of Art, Springfield, OH 32

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Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | tel 505.988.3250 | Š 2019 LewAllen Contemporary, LLC 34 Artwork Š Brian Rutenberg

Profile for LewAllen Galleries

Brian Rutenberg: Lake  

Brian Rutenberg: Lake