Brian Rutenberg is one of my favorite contemporary painters. I discovered Brian’s work at Art Chicago in the early 2000s; his paintings, large abstract landscapes, are boldly colorful with wonderful gradations within larger fields of color. There is a representative collection of his work on Pinterest.
My favorite experience with his paintings was at Jerald Meldberg Gallery in Charlotte. While on a trip in the south, I traveled several hundred miles out of my way to visit this show – and I’ll have to say – it was totally worth it. His work was in a large gallery space – huge abstract landscapes. I sat and stared at those paintings for an hour and a half – for this fellow painter, it was almost a religious experience.
Rutenberg features rich, bold colors – built around a harmony of complimentary hues. Within larger sections – he develops intriguing gradations built from a dominant color. Perhaps there is a yellow/gold section. He introduces a range of colors – a little more green here, a little more orange, a lighter section – all working together to vibrate with life, and often also creating great sense of depth.
Rutenberg describes his paintings as abstracted landscapes, many based upon the Low Country of South Carolina (his home). I think this is another aspect of his work that I find satisfying – that it is based on something real – giving you hooks to hang onto within the painting’s composition. Often times though, whatever sense of reality he gives you is very vague.
Influences listed by the painter include Hans Hoffman and Joan Mitchell – and I see Richard Diebenkorn’s more abstract work in some of these as well.
Brian is one of the top working painters in the US. He is represented by Forum in New York, Melberg in Charlotte, Toomey-Tourell in San Francisco and Tew in Atlanta. He also has a series of video blogs on YouTube that are very interesting.