November 1 - 19, 2011
An i-phone photograph looking through empty space and glass walls in Munich airport, is the starting point for Jude Rae’s Interior 278. This is neutral space – the time of transit expressed in an architecture of glazed concourses and double doors with airbridge behind. But this is also the space of painting. And it is these qualities, the qualities of this work as painting, that I want to dwell on just briefly here.
There are for example, significant areas of underpainting dribbled with medium (in the mid and upper right) along with other areas scumbled and raw in the foreground and lower left of the painting, that I haven’t seen Rae satisfied to leave like this before. And I use the term 'satisfied' because as a painter she has, I think, been utterly content to leave considerable areas of the canvas like this for all to see. In fact, right across the foreground, orange and blue underpainting repeatedly breaks through the predominant tones of brown. Whilst finally on top of this painterly surface, a loose grid of charcoal lines add further fluidity and life to what is a very compelling foreground plane.
There are however, denser and tighter areas of brushwork and colour in this painting. In other words, the way of painting - full of attention to visual detail, light and tone - that we have come to expect and admire in the work of Ms Rae. One such area is that around the architectural confluence of truss, post and glass in the upper middle and left hand centre of the painting. This is a powerful meeting of diagonals and verticals, with different elements and aspects picked out in subtly measured colour and tone. The art historian in me could talk about Mondrian at this point. But visually, our eye is kept moving here by Rae’s careful annunciation of dots. Rows of dots. A veritable dance of dots, at different angles in (therefore) slightly different planes. This 'bounce' is complemented by a row of big white dots, the terminal lights, which seem to float along the plane of the heavy brown ceiling above.
So it is here, both painterly skill and the art of representation in paint that I find so admirable. Conversations about light and shadow, transparency, reflection and brushwork co-exist with narratives of travel and obvious emptiness. The eye for the figurative mixes with a sensibility for abstraction. There is a marvelous mingling – in fact a very careful alignment of door handles that add important punctuation in the middle left of the painting. A bigger panel (heater?) and its attendant shadow offer significant quietness to the right of the paintng. And just behind and to the right of this, is a small square – my favourite in the entire painting. It is raw underpainting, simply dribbled (through) with run lines of blue, russet and ochre. It is loose and vibrant in a painterly sense. Inexplicable as description. But riveting as a presence in the painting as a whole.
Interior 278 began as a photograph. But its vitality resides in its qualities as (a) painting. It should be compared with the Still Lives around it: with the soft density of SL 287; the more open porous brushwork of SL 258; and with the liquid qualities (so deftly anchored by the dark foreground line at the base) in SL 286. For it is along these lines of visual and painterly inquiry, that the enduring pleasures of this exhibition of Jude Rae’s new work reside.
Interior 278 (Munich 1)
1525 x 1980mm
1220 x 1375mm
660 x 710mm
560 x 610mm
All works are oil on linen, from 2011.