Dates & times

Fri 18 August — Sun 15 October 2017

Image: SL309


Jude Rae SL309 2013, oil on linen, 137 x 122 cm. Private collection.


Jude Rae: A Space of Measured Light                              18 August – 15 October 2017

This exhibition is the first large-scale survey of works from the past two decades by award-winning Sydney-based artist Jude Rae.  Seven years ago an exhibition of her still life paintings was held at the Canberra Museum and Gallery.  Since then she has been the recipient of the prestigious Bulgari Art Award in 2016, which added to a long series of prior awards and prestigious commissions.  The remarkable journey she has traced in her art over the past decade includes a highly successful career as a portrait painter, as an exponent of figure painting and drawing, and even topical imagery of modern warfare.  However this survey at the Drill Hall Gallery will concentrate largely on her production of still lifes and interiors.

A Space of Measured Light asks vital questions about the protocols of vision, the nature of realism and the validity of technique.  Jude Rae maintains an art staunchly based in first-hand perception which is supported by a technical mastery of oil painting techniques worthy of 17th century Dutch realists such as Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu and Jan Vermeer. The representation of objective reality finds itself transfigured by a beatitude of light.

These are not mere throwbacks to an historical era, nor to the metaphysics of old-time religion: the underpinnings of modernist abstraction, the strategy of “composing with planes” and the autonomous music of colour inform all of Rae’s work.  It is as if they were the fulfilment of the historical process and aesthetic outcome described by the pioneering Dutch abstractionist Piet Mondrian, who observed that “unconsciously every true artist has always been moved by the beauty of line, colour and relationships for their own sake and not by what they represent.”

“Consciously [s]he has followed the forms of objects. Consciously, [s]he has tried to express things and sensations through modelling and techniques. But unconsciously [s]he has established planes; [s]he has augmented the tension of line and purified the colour. Thus, gradually, through the centuries, the culture of painting has led to the total abolition of the limiting form and particular representation. In our time, art has been liberated from everything that prevents it from being truly plastic.”

Piet Mondrian, 1942

One might describe the nature of her achievement as the reconciling of this liberation into abstraction and the purity of means without having to abolish the realistic, perceptually-based, tonal, illusionistic, figurative basis of an older Western tradition.

Rae began painting at a young age, following in the footsteps of her father.  Her formal training began at the Julian Ashton School at the age of 12, when she was the only child there.  This early study was followed by a Bachelor of Art (Fine Art History) at the University of Sydney (1980), and culminated in a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury (1993).

Rae has fifteen years of affiliation with the ANU. She has held various roles including artist in residence at the School of Art and Design.  She is represented by Jensen Gallery in Sydney and Fox Jensen Gallery in Auckland.

Interview Jude Rae & Terence Maloon 2017


Updated:  23 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  DHG Director/ Page Contact:  Drill Hall Gallery