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Image de Une : Drawing Room Interior, 2014, huile sur toile, 152 x 173 cm. Toutes les images sont publiées avec l'aimable autorisation de l'artiste.

Illustrations of Private Art Collections Are a Colorful Window Into the Past

Maya-Roisin Slater

The beauty is in the collecting for Brian Rideout and his new body of work titled 'American Collection Paintings'.

Image de Une : Drawing Room Interior, 2014, huile sur toile, 152 x 173 cm. Toutes les images sont publiées avec l'aimable autorisation de l'artiste.

Using bright colors, subtle shading, and vivid detail, Brian Rideout's oil paintings occupy a peculiar space between intimacy and distance, pulling from architecture, interiors, and still life. His use of partial perspective, crowded or empty space, gives them a sense of secrecy. Rideout's work explores the power of image, both as a tool for communication and an object of beauty and value. In his recent body of work, American Collection Paintings, he explores these ideas through an interiors lens.

The collection of painted interiors titled Resilient Floors was inspired by images of rooms spanning between the decades of 1960 and 1990. At first glance, it's hard to differentiate the time periods in each space as modern and vintage amalgamate, making the pieces feel specific to eras of design while also timeless. It is not, however, a statement on interior design, but a conversation on artifact collection, and the way in which we historically and presently document collections.

American Collection Painting 4 2016, oil on canvas, 48 x 39 in. All images courtesy of the artist.

The common thread connecting each room is the valuables that occupy them, ranging from paintings to iconic pieces of furniture. "This series of work is one thread of a bigger idea looking at where the genres and themes of art history have ended up representing themselves in the landscape of commercial image production," he says.

The fascination on documentation of valuables was inspired by the work of 17th century Flemish painters, who would on commission archive the artistic acquisitions of lords and royalty. This led way to a broader tradition of cataloguing collections for the benefit of future generations, as painting gave way to photography much of this archival work took place on film sometimes appearing in the glossy pages of art and interior design magazines.

American Collection Painting 10 2017, oil on canvas, 50 x 48 in. All images courtesy of the artist.

For Rideout who got his start as a child drawing pears under the instruction of his father, a dedicated hobby painter it is not merely the practice of documentation that is a point of fascination. In his artist statement for Resilient Floors he writes, "If you want people to think about rooms, show them pictures of rooms. If you want them to think about Italy, show them a picture of Italy. If you want someone to feel like they are in a room, put them in a room, and maybe put carpet on the floor." Intended to be a bit tongue in cheek, this is Rideout's way of touching on the other critical aspects of the Resilient Floors exhibition and the body of work that is American Collection Paintings, which is an exploration of visual communication and how subjective certain exterior influences can be.

American Collection Painting 5 2016, oil on canvas, 18 x 18 in. All images courtesy of the artist.

"I was trying to say that visual communication is a very direct way of conveying information—something we are very well versed in understanding," he explains. "It is something I sometimes feel is missing from a lot of contemporary art. I find it can be oppressive and elitist to have so much didactic material and written explanation in order to interact with an artwork and I wonder what message that will convey looking far into the future; what if those explanations are lost and only the work survives? What will future generations be able to learn from it?"

American Collection Painting 1 2015, oil on canvas, 34 x 28 in. All photos courtesy of the artist.

Brian Rideout's preparing for two shows, a solo venture at Project Gallery in Toronto, and a group exhibition at Parisian Laundry in Montreal. More of his work can be found on his website here.

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