Monday, 27 March 2017

Two Studies, Beijing

Monoliths, Beijing, oil on masonite, 11" x 14", Steven Rhude

Landscape near Beijing, oil on masonite, 11" x 14", Steven Rhude

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Man in a Room

Man in a Room, oil on masonite, 11" x 14", Steven Rhude

He is a man in a room. There is no room with a view for this man, unless one considers the view the man has of those that observe him at work, which is generally all day long. The room is also his studio, his work place, except unlike other artists, for this man there is no solitude, just the experience of being on display. Thus, the man in the room has learned to tune out the observers. The man in the room must lose himself in the room to endure the confines of the room. In his mind he develops the pursuit of a narrative, yet the observer knows not the unspecified interests of the man in the room; knows not what he is thinking. The observer can only observe.

The observer knows not the man in the room's dreams, desires, and longings. The observer doesn't know  that, alone, the man in the room secretly ponders an experience he knows will never be fulfilled. It is more desirable than any other thing he can contemplate. It removes the monotony of measured time from his routine. The man in the room is an alchemist - he uses his powers to transmute raw jade into a substance of value. There is a sense for the man in the room that everyone's journey will and must change... eventually, even his own. We end as we have begun. With a man in a room.

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


Colossus (Beijing), oil on masonite, 13" x 10", Steven Rhude

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Leviathan (Big Pants)

Leviathan (Beijing), oil on masonite, 12" x 13", Steven Rhude

 The China Central Television Headquarters was under construction when I visited Beijing. I removed the cranes for simplification. It was later on referred to as "Big Pants" by locals.

 "[CCTV is] a building that introduces new ways of conceptualising, liberating and realising structure that did not exist in China before, and of which I'm sure Chinese culture and Chinese architecture will benefit," he said. "It articulates the position and the situation of China." - Rem Koolhaas

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Forbidden City Tunnel

Forbidden City Tunnel, oil on panel, 8.5" x 9.5", Steven Rhude

"What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness? Parmenides posed this very question in the sixth century before Christ. He saw the world divided into pairs of opposites: light/darkness, fine/coarseness, warmth/cold, being/nonbeing. One half of the opposition he called positive (light, fineness, warmth, being), the other negative. We might find this division into positive and negative poles childishly simple, except for one difficulty: which one is positive, weight or lightness?"

Milan Kundera - The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Steven Rhude, Wolfville, NS 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Porcelain Painter

The Porcelain Painter, oil on panel, 13" x 12", Steven Rhude

 "Art has its origins in the gods and immortals. There is no one who has heard or seen them." - Xie He

I continue to harbour a private designation as to what is Art, and not a day goes by when I don't at some point ponder its mysterious equation. I've heard the implication that Art is everything and therefore Art is nothing, but that approach leaves me indifferent. There must be something to the idea that Art is a civilizing force - a symbolic language sprung from an immemorial past. Whatever it is, it continues to give me the chills when I do see it manifested in the flesh - before my very own eyes. Watching a woman paint vessels in Beijing with more skill than some art college graduates emerge with certainly got me thinking about her labour, and the beauty of her results. Day in and day out she paints, never the same way twice as one might imagine, but with an infinite variation of care applied to the volume of different shapes, cultural connotations, symbols, and motifs inherent in the vessel's design. This application constitutes her working day, and her working life.

Today, the art world seems preoccupied primarily with identity politics. “Today’s art world isn’t even contemptuous of old standards — it is wholly indifferent to them,” writes Sohrab Ahmari in this timely polemic, in which he writes passionately in defence of humane art and the critical standards once thought to be of supreme importance and permanence: “sincerity, formal rigour and cohesion, the quest for truth, the sacred and the transcendent.”

Looking back however, in China, once writing was established, painting then came to birth. With the two modes of expression apparent - painting diverged from that of writing. The object being that writing would convey the meaning of things, and painting would depict them. Essentially this provided order in a world threatened by chaos.

 Yet still we continue to struggle with what Art is, but less and less now do we concern ourselves with the mystery of the origins of Art, let alone with the 'standards of supreme importance and permanence.' Possibly though, we sometimes need to look outside the institution to locate it, like an isolated factory perhaps, producing porcelain pots destined for trade that may provide an unconventional route to the answer.

Steven Rhude , Wolfville NS