Luke Rudolf’s portraits are not immediately obvious. What at first may appear to be abstract paintings that bring together sweeping brush marks and hard edge geometry, slowly reveal the suggestion of a face. In making his work, Rudolf draws from the traditions of modernism, where initially abstraction was an act of reducing an image down to an unrecognisable form. Rudolf’s process engages with this idea in reverse, bringing together expressive gestures and angular shapes so that they hover on the point of recognition.
Through his work Rudolf explores our drive for cognition: it’s human nature to identify a face, no matter how distorted or extreme the visual cues. His canvases tap into our instinctive hardwiring and describe psychological or subconscious experience. His paintings are equally seductive and violent: the fluid brushstrokes cut through by fragments of geometry suggest flesh and shrapnel. His lurid colours and highly textured surfaces are both tacky and beautiful, and convey a potentially sinister mysticism in their trippy psychedelic style. Rudolf activates our ancient instincts in a way that appeals to our contemporary sensibilities.
In modernist abstraction the emphasis was placed on the authenticity of an artist’s expression, where the creative spontaneity of a gesture is what made it unique. However, in Rudolf’s paintings his original brushstrokes are selected, dislocated, and carefully reconsidered. The idea of the synthetic is important to Rudolf’s work and is conveyed through his use of acid-colour, fluorescent, and faux metallic paint. His super-saturated surfaces, which are multi-layered with exaggerated textures, convey the commodified seduction of plastic, as well as the luminous glow of digital screens.