At The Races In The Countryside
A solo exhibition by BRIAN RIDEOUT
20 APRIL 2012 – 18 MAY 2012
OPENING RECEPTION: 20 APRIL 2012, 7 – 10 PM
The whole of BRIAN RIDEOUT’s practice concerns the new degenerative image. Three decades into a worldwide database of copies, versions and modified variations of reproducible images, the artist draws an acute parallel between the function of historical painting and the .jpeg. As the painted murals of 12th century churches set social standards for the majority, ubiquitous imagery on the Internet holds the same importance. Rideout’s acknowledgement of the inevitable degradation of media (be it through Xerox toner, .jpeg resolution, video quality, abridged Wikipedia excerpts, or otherwise), and the responding attempt to regard it, is at the heart of Rideout’s second solo exhibition, AT THE RACES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, at Butcher Gallery.
There is an overt consciousness of painting’s historical role in this exhibition. Rideout cites Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens’ pairing of life-size scale with explicit subject in Massacre of the Innocents as he explains his decision to make Porno Painting the largest in the exhibition. Carvaggio, a senior influence to Rubens, is channeled with the light cast on a hand at a rock concert (The Calling of Saint Matthew), and the suite of sixteen portraits of the Red Army Faction continues previous explorations of these icons by Gerhard Richter. In an essay on Richter’s works, Luc Tuymans explains that “[Richter] does not judge as a painter [with his series October 18, 1977], but makes himself incredibly positioned and open to attack by not positioning himself”. (1)
This sentiment holds true in Rideout’s own work. Through his systematic studio practice of studying gridded source imagery, his reproductions are so diligent that lost elements of the original photograph (say, the second lens of a pair of eyeglasses that dissolved from multiple passes of a xerox copier) remain omitted. With painted borders, letterboxed stills, and faded blacks, his works render the source more accurately than they do their subjects. By simulating this flatness, a complex consideration of its visual and generational significance is unearthed: the conversation abandoned by the photographs is reactivated. Rideout simultaneously exploits and celebrates this contemporary phenomenon of flattening and welcomes image, as icon, as valid subject.
Brian Rideout’s faith in painting is devout. He is driven not by a romantic relationship with his studio, his materials, his identity as a painter, but rather a sincere respect for his sources. The works in AT THE RACES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE are presented as new universal standards– terrorism, pornography, automobile fan art, luxury fragrance, online video, etc.
(1) Loock, Ulrich, et al. Luc Tuymans. New York: Phaidon, 2003. Print.