• Hedonistic Seduction

    Date posted: November 3, 2009 Author: jolanta
    In my paintings, I attempt to reflect my sense of the times we are living in, both how richly interesting they are and how difficult it is for most of us to navigate their uncharted waters.

    Terry Rodgers

    Terry Rodgers, The Palace of Automorphic Delights, 2009. Oil on linen, 84 x 126 inches. Courtesy Torch Gallery.

    In my paintings, I attempt to reflect my sense of the times we are living in, both how richly interesting they are and how difficult it is for most of us to navigate their uncharted waters. The scenes are imagined, but I use real people as reference to work from. The process often begins with seeing someone whose expressive possibilities strike me. I stop people in restaurants, on the street, in clubs—wherever I find individuals whose faces suggest both beauty and inner depth—arrange to photograph them. Then I wrestle with various photos to see which might “speak” to each other. By playing with them on the computer and drawing them I finally work out the designs. After resolving a design, I draw it out on the canvas; my underpainting roughs in the colors in acrylic, and then with the oil on linen.

    One of the things I’m trying to get at is the pure complexity of what we have to deal with—the influences, pressures, deceptions, seductions, and co-opting of language. The profusion of vectoral interplay in the designs themselves is an attempt to mirror that set of conflicting influences. Some might believe that my work portrays the modern worlds’ insatiable appetite for beauty, sex, fame, and money, but to me, the subject is much bigger than that: these fictions are created everywhere.

    It is surprising how little the difference there is between fictions about war bringing peace, and the kind of fictions that suggest certain lifestyles will bring a kind of significant satisfaction. Inadvertently, these become the kinds of fictions we live by, and they come from a multitude of sources—magazines, television, movies, politicians, churches, friends, and so on.   

    I’ve always been fascinated by what we look like. In these party scenes I use nudity because I want it to suggest who we are beneath all the disguises we adorn ourselves with. One part of the confusing modern conundrum is that the nude body, which used to be private, connoting something revealed, has now been appropriated as another façade to sell ourselves—buffed up, glossed, waxed, tanned, “prostheticized,” and accessorized.

    These party metaphors are meant to somehow depict our collective ideals or fantasies—not directly, but rather by suggestion. I create large paintings because I find that the figures enter into our space as viewers. They impinge upon us and we inadvertently react. These paintings are also about the viewer—how our own lenses determine our perceptions.

    These party scenes seem like the perfect way to combine many aspects of our lives. There is the language of desire that so pervades our commercial and private worlds. It is not just sexual desire, but desire for beauty, for wealth, happiness, and most of all for acceptance. The figures collectively represent the imaginary worlds many of us carry within us. There is also the cultural representation of the places and all that they connote, and the abstract maelstrom of energy that combines and connects all these parts through the vectors, the paint, the color, and the light. These party scenes become a vehicle for examining how we live and think.

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