In the early 21st century few artists paint like Jude Rae. The excuse is raised that such painting is unfashionable. The real excuse for not painting in this way is that it is terribly difficult. When one looks at Rae’s painting, whilst they are clearly mindful of a lineage of painting that extends back through Cezanne, Morandi to Velazquez and further, these modest paintings are determinedly – stubbornly new. Small concessions to narrative are made, or at least decisions about what not to paint, particularly the sentimental. Therefore she chooses light industrial objects that are freed from the symbolic weight of the domestic. Decisions about how not to paint – studiously avoiding the flourish of gesture and material, so that what Rae gives us is a concentrated encounter with vision and material itself. Her objects main role is to provide a visual scaffold that allows light, space and form to be scrutinised. Photography, at least in its ever increasing service to painters, risks negating the very exploration that makes painting unique. The kind of “hard won” discoveries that time and aesthetic accumulation can bring.
Liberated from narrative and symbolic baggage, Still Life can return to the role it had for Cezanne, Picasso and Morandi – to function as a kind of laboratory where the fundamental enquiries painting can offer can be tested. Painting can be given back the density and authority that it deserves.
Jude Rae lives and works in Sydney, Australia.
Rae is represented in many public and private collections including:
The National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
The National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Canberra Museum and Gallery, Canberra
Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington
Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand
Christchurch Art Gallery Toi o Waiwhetu, Christchurch, New Zealand
Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand
Art Bank Australia
Jennifer B Gibbs Trust, Auckland, New Zealand
James Wallace Arts Trust, Auckland, New Zealand
The Fletcher Challenge Collection, Auckland, New Zealand
University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
National Bank, New Zealand, Wellington
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Melbourne, Australia
The Australia Club, Sydney, Australia
The Northern Club, Auckland, New Zealand