by Nitija Immanuel, Jerry ElengicalSep 16, 2021
When the first ray of light falls straight on the surface of the earth, we see blue and tangerine hues that create an atmospheric effect. Every day we are reminded that the geometrical pattern and colour coordination define the harmony in nature. To play around it has been the constant favourite among the art practitioners. The impressionist school of arts defied the rule of the focal point set by its precedents when it emphasised sensations over the precision of lines. Working towards a similar aim is the exhibition Light of Day, by Rob de Oude, at Mckenzie Fine Art, New York.
When the art of minimalism remains unabated, de Oude’s geometric abstract paintings bring back the art of lines and colour that almost leave the viewer with a sense of hallucination. While looking at the paintings, the curious mind tends to raise this question, how did the artist conceive this idea of lines and patterns? De Oude answers this in a short interview, “The idea of solely working with straight lines came from a desire to be specific, to choose from a world of possibilities a single element that then in return could lead to another world of possibilities, but more one of my own accord. In repeating a single element, I can invite all kinds of probabilities and thoughts along the way that can lead to unfamiliar and undiscovered territories. Like the seafarers from the past, they, with limited resources and a fair dose of chance and grit, discovered new worlds. I try to make these discoveries with paint on a minute level, in the confines of my studio.”
The repetition of lines and colours in a grid-like structure at first glance may come across as a simple exercise to execute. But it is a laborious task to abide by the geometrical rules, which would leave the audience with a little scope to locate either the starting or ending point of the painting.
Elucidating further on this, de Oude says, “The numbers on these frames enable me to repeat sequences of lines that could turn into patterns. In addition, my brushes have been modified so they could slide easily over my guide without any wobble or deviation. Although this all seems controlling and maybe restrictive, the process is very open and can lead to all kinds of unpredictable outcomes. In fact, without any rules or acquired skill and knowledge, it would be hard to make anything. In working with repetitions of hand-painted lines there is the inevitability of sometimes making a mistake when for instance miss-spacing a line. But, when in return these seemingly mistakes are repeated, they become part of the fabric of the painting and can lead to something new and undiscovered.”
An array of software that gives an endless choice of colour selection, combination and mixtures have switched the physical palette of colour. Eschewing the algorithm, it is indeed a rare sight to find paintings accomplished in a blemish-free patterns of lines and colours. When de Oude states that he draws inspiration for colour blends from fabrics, flowers or the food sections at the supermarket, it is reassuring to know that in the world driven by hyperreality, the artist’s creativity is not subjected to the intentional designs. De Oude expounds, “I do not predetermine my colour choices prior to making a painting, as I would like the process to be reciprocal. In being part of the process, I like to respond to the layers of colour by choosing the next one, as opposed to having a finalised idea that I would then paint.”
De Oude convinces the audience that the world of possibilities is not limited to technology. The brushes and colour tubes would still see the light of day, unless we decide to bracket creativity and calculation together.
The exhibition Light of Day is on view till February 16, 2020, at Mckenzie Fine Art, New York, United States.