at Conduit Gallery until August 31st
by Todd Camplin
Conduit Gallery brings back Rex Ray for another colorful show of his collage/paintings. No other
artist has taken the tools and visual world of design and boiled it down into a kind of 1950’s retro
hipster art aesthetic. Sure you had Warhol, who came out of graphic design and many of the
Lowbrow Art/Pop Surrealism painters seamlessly mix design and art, but Rex Ray stands apart
from these artists because of his commitment to style and beauty.
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|Rex Ray is attempting to create beautiful paintings out of collage material. Much of the paper he
uses is manipulated or painted by Ray and then cut on the canvas or board. I see Ray as another
New Baroque artist like Jeff Koons, only with less glamorous kitsch. In his pursuit of beautiful pictures,
I think he does play with the edges of kitsch. Like in his large “Untitled” piece, the images look like
christmas ornaments in a wallpaper pattern. The “over the top” aesthetic is baked right into the
piece. “Prednisportata” looks like a still life of perfume bottles, but with extravagant flare of color
and exaggerated shapes. In this piece, the darker background seems to tone down the rest of
the busy shapes in the imaginary foregrounds. Although, other works have very charged
backgrounds that give little rest for the eye.
|Personally, the series of smaller works grabbed most of my attention. I think, because these works
reference the kind of cut outs he first started making while he was knee deep in the design world.
Though, these works are more refined than those early works, they still feel a little more raw and
less Baroque. The smaller images do relate to the large work in the use of shapes and colors, but
at the same time I feel they hold a kinship to Matisse’s cut outs or a Motherwell abstraction.
|Collage 3599 - 2012,
collage & resin on panel, 24:" x 16"
|Those that think the work is just design are missing the point. Ray is making art that lives on multiple