“You Are Here”, Plus Gallery, Biennial of The Americas, Denver, July 9-Aug. 20 2010.
The exhibit features Canadian visual artists Brendan Tang, Alex McLeod, Douglas Walker, Andrew Rucklidge and Luke Painter working in a variety of media.
We first came across the work of Canadian artist Andrew Rucklidge while visiting Art Chicago back in 2007, his paintings exuding a strong sophistication of technique evoking the possibility of dark mystery. The paintings are all rooted in landscape, and though they can be labeled as fantasy of the sublime they have a wide and compelling range of context that strikes a universal chord. In his earlier works, the lushness of his geographic descriptions are overlapped by geometric codes and inscriptions reflecting the human presence and its impact on the scenes, creating a tension that merges the scientific with the romantic in a signature effect. Within the last couple of years Rucklidge has pushed towards a more abstract and perhaps ominous direction that strips away a broader sense of context, pushing the mystery to even deeper and more engaging levels. Never content to confine his output to one methodology, Rucklidge experiments widely with his approach to painting, most recently working with larger encaustics and mid sized oils on linen. In all regards, his work is exquisitely compelling and brings another ideal component to our focus on Canadian artists of great depth.
The young Canadian painter Andrew Rucklidge draws on an array of influences that range from the fifteenth century splashed ink painting of Sesshu, the grand panoramas of the American Sublime through to aerial surveillance photographs and diagrams of military conflict. He uses a traditional painting technique — toned homemade chalk grounds and egg-oil emulsion under-painting but overlays this with a unique mixture of transparent liquid-oil and wax. The results are, as the critic Elisabeth Mahoney has described, “slippery, shimmering fantasies (that) hint at the past and future of art and science, as well as the boundary between conscious thought and subliminal freedoms.”
Rucklidge’s paintings invoke the aesthetics of Romantic landscape painting and often take the form of grand apocalyptic panoramic vistas. Yet each work is also inscribed with graphic overlays that speak of a very different age, the contemporary period of military surveillance, planning and operation where warfare is computerised but in practice the same bloody mess that it has always been. In Rucklidge’s works there is ambiguity over which comes first – the swirling, tempestuous topography or the graphically austere military motifs, whether conflict scars the landscape or nature begets war. For Rucklidge, this is why his chosen medium must be painting. “I believe that painting has its own varieties of syntax that cannot readily be appropriated by the mass media, and therefore a relevant medium for the task in hand: to encode the political and technological into new visual events and interpret their effect on humanity.”
Andrew Rucklidge lives and works in Toronto. He received an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2003 and previously studied at Concordia, Montreal. He has exhibited widely in Canada and also in New Contemporaries 2003 in England. He has work in the collections of UBS, Bloomberg as well as a number of private collections.