Artist to Appreciate: Steven Rhude

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Steven Rhude, “On the Edge”

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Nova Scotia artist Steven Rhude is most often characterized as a realist painter, akin to Alex Colville and Christopher Pratt (both also from the Maritimes).  However, Rhude’s representational style is decidedly more nuanced.  A close examination of his works reveals an underlying splatter technique that is almost pointillist (and adds wonderful texture) as well as distinct aspects of whimsy and irony, all of which might be more appropriately regarded as a kind of magical realism.  His paintings prominently feature icons of the Atlantic provinces — dories, lighthouses, fishing sheds and buoys, among others — as signifiers of place, identity, memory and loss amidst ongoing changes affecting that region of the country, particularly since the early 1990s ban on cod fishing altered a centuries-old economic equilibrium for coastal communities where living has never been especially easy.

In discussing his early artistic training, Rhude has noted that while studying at the Ontario College of Art & Design one of his instructors urged him to first equip himself with a notepad and hiking boots and get out of the studio so as to write and interview people and thereby find authentic stories and experiences upon which to ground his art.   Reading Rhude’s humane and thoughtful ruminations about art and society on the blog associated with his professional website is a great pleasure and it’s obvious from his splendid writing that he took his instructor’s advice very much to heart.  Because of his skillful artistry, Rhude’s paintings of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and other places are visually enjoyable and can be appreciated for that alone.  Even more special is that his beautiful images also convey important social commentary and add another layer of appreciation for his wonderful paintings.

You can see more of Steven Rhude’s excellent work and read some of his insightful writings on his website and blog and the related links to the galleries that represent his art.  Rhude’s book “A Place Called Away: Living and Painting in Nova Scotia” also showcases many of his paintings.

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Steven Rhude, “Towards Sibley’s Cove”

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Steven Rhude, “After the Storm”

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Steven Rhude, “Judy Takes Her Lighthouse For A Walk”

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Steven Rhude, “Expulsion,  The Final Cut”

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Steven Rhude, “Equilibrium # 3”

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Steven Rhude, “Finding Brigus Light”

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Steven Rhude, “Up On the Roof”

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Steven Rhude, “The Home Coming”

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Steven Rhude, “Lunenburg Shed in Guggenheim”

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(Image Credits: Steven Rhude)

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

David Pirrie: Mapping Western Terrains and Our Sense of Place

Artist to Appreciate:  Katharine Burns

Artist to Appreciate:  Christopher Pratt

35 responses

  1. Yes. I went straight to his site. You always post an intriguing selection and then refer to the artist’s own postings. Thanks. It’s the introduction I so appreciate.

    • Hi, Margaret, thanks for your message. Great to see that your gallery represents him in the Toronto area. I visited your website and it’s very nice to see that you have quite a few other terrific artists showcased in your gallery. Best, Brett

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