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The art is in the processNew York painter Rodney Harder has show in Jeju
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승인 2009.08.25  20:25:32
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▲ New York artist Rodney Harder discusses his modern artwork with visitors to the Myung Poom Gallery near Topdong where he held a show from July 30 through Aug. 7. Photo courtesy Myung Poom Gallery.

Professional artist and painting instructor Rodney Harder was in Jeju this month visiting family, and he brought a few paintings along with him.

A collection of his abstract paintings were shown at the Myung Poom Gallery near Topdong from July 30 through Aug. 7. This unique show of contemporary abstract painting brought a very different type of modern art to Jeju.

The gallery, an art space and Jeju product store, has been open for two years. It is located 200 meters up the hill on the small street just past the large five-way intersection as you drive from Shin Jeju to Topdong.

Harder’s paintings were on small, square canvases in muted colors pulled from the natural world. The process is central to the work, with paint applied and wiped away, layers built up over time, and textures evolving as the piece progresses.

“The decisions are not made based on formal elements or the rules of Western composition,” he said. The resultant paintings are blocks and fields of color which leave room for the imagination.

▲ New York artist Rodney Harder discusses his modern artwork with visitors to the Myung Poom Gallery near Topdong where he held a show from July 30 through Aug. 7. Photo courtesy Myung Poom Gallery.

At the opening on July 30, there was discussion of the titles of his pieces and what they signified.

“They’re often incidental,” he said. “I don’t want people to put too much emphasis on them. They’re not meant to be literal or descriptive.”

One painting, a moss green background with red splotches, is called “Beaver Kill.” While it is often interpreted as a literal title, it was simply the name of the place where the piece was painted.

With his work, the audience must release themselves from the literal and delve into the emotions and ideas evoked by the paintings. The images are not reproductions of the physical world, but a chronicle of the experience of making the painting. The process of the art is a part of the art itself, as the artist lives through and in his work.

“My shows are normally in places with communities of modern artists, (and) other abstract painters,” Harder said. “Here, I’ve had so many interesting conversations with artists who work with all different kinds of materials — with potters, a coppersmith, it’s interesting to me how much similarity there is between the different processes, outcome versus intention, and ultimately how the outcome is revealed.”

▲ A visitor ponders artist Rodney Harder’s abstract painting style during the exclusive show at the Myung Poom Gallery in Jeju City. Photo courtesy Myung Poom Gallery.

Harder has moved further and further away from the formal techniques and labels of the art world, finding classifications unnecessarily restrictive. “People might see my work and say, “Oh, that’s abstract expressionism, when it’s not. Labels just stop you from interpreting something for what it is, what is actually in front of you.” The nontraditional element of his work is evidenced not only by his imagery, but also by his choice of materials, including house paint and found canvases, some of them with the remnants of other paintings visible on the edges.

Harder is drawn to self taught and so-called outsider artists. “I like the ones who are obsessively drawn to art,” he said.

Some of his influences include Americans Merlin James, John Zurier, and Mose Tolliver, and Raoul De Keyser from the Netherlands. He also enjoyed the current show at the Jeju Botanical Garden of Mr. Kang’s work.

Harder’s most recent show was in Brussels as part of the Primitif Complique show. To see more of his work, visit Rodneyharder.blogspot.com.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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