In a Solo Show at Gallery Henoch, Gary Ruddell Paints Journeys of Life and Self

Mar 8, 2016 6:53PM

When he’s not illustrating sci-fi novels, Gary Ruddell is working on his dreamlike, psychologically charged paintings. Gallery Henoch is currently showcasing a dozen of his recent canvases for “Little Journeys,” his second solo show in New York.

Ruddell’s work in science fiction clearly influences his art. Produced from 2013 to 2016, these oil-on-panel compositions feature landscapes at once earthly and otherworldly, populated by a smattering of self-possessed children and young adults. The scenes explore our connectedness to others, our hopes and aspirations, and the mix of confidence and insecurity, uncertainty and independence that characterizes the process of fully realizing the self.

The motivations of the youthful figures and the scenarios in which they appear can come across as enigmatic, yet they demonstrate the universal human urge to know the world and find our place within it. In Blind Vision (2013), a white rowboat sits prominently at the center of the canvas, as an adolescent boy navigates the vessel on a black winding river. He strains his body while turning himself and his rowboat away from viewers and toward the back of the composition, which is pocked with seemingly closed doorways and windows. A young woman stands in front of one of the few opened apertures illuminated by light radiating from within. Ruddell leaves it up to viewers to determine where these figures are and where they are going.

A golden light suffuses Small Journeys (2015) as two girls and two boys sit on disc-shaped islands upon a luminous body of water. The children concentrate on a number of small, floating houses—but are they trying to gather or release these homes? It is either a gesture of reclamation or independence as the children find their ways toward or away from the certainty of home.

Karen Kedmey

Gary Ruddell: Little Journeys” is on view at Gallery Henoch, New York, Mar. 3–26, 2016.

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