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Art Critic Juergen Raap on Rod Coyne's paintings

Critiques and Quotes

"The works of Rod Coyne"
written in 2002 by the eminent German author, journalist and critic Juergen Raap.

White bellowing clouds in the sky. Deep, dark blue-gray announces an immanent rain front (Bull Cow and Calf 5, 2001). Stormy wind stirs up the sea. The waves smash hard against the rocky shore of Dalkey island, and the heavy rain sprays over the frothing foam. With thunderous force the waves bash against the rocks of "Bulloch Harbour", 2000.

Rod Coyne's pictures are the result of an intense study of nature and weather. After living in Duesseldorf between 1990 and 1999, he rediscovered the his native landscape on his return home. Landscapes and seascapes make up the backbone of his painting over the past four years - yet the treatment is anything but sentimental nor is it a simple recording of unbridled nature as in the romanticism of the 19th century of such subjects as a metaphor for the immortal for the animation, spiritualization nature dramatized. In contrast, Rod Coyne's pictures communicate the immediacy of the physical experience of the atmospherics, of wind, of rain, and of natural lightshows.

When the sun breaks through the clouds, a yellow reflection ripples on the uneasy waters of "Killiney Bay", 2000. In another painting a rainy landscapes disappears in a gray foggy, veil. Only the dark silhouette of the mountains breaks through the mist, "Coomacallee Mountain2", 2001.

One could be tempted to see these paintings in a traditional art history light, the likes of William Turner and the French impressionism stretching into the post modern 20th century, as painting with an emphasis on sensuality and the substance as against the brittleness of conceptualism and minimalism. At the same time Rod Coyne frees himself of the art historical legacy: his "harvest" series 2002, completely side-steps symbolism , which in ages passed was about a seasonal depiction. Coyne paints the fields with rolled straw bales and towering haystacks. With dynamic, rhythmic brushstrokes he captures the stubble rows of grain with bright yellows, ocker and brown tones.

Rich, dark green marks the forest edge and trees in the background. But that is not a parable of the idyllic and simple rural life - it is more a visual documentation of the rationalization and commercial efficiency of the combine harvester in a time when the farmyard has made way for factory farming. In this scene Rod Coyne offers us a most up to date contemporary painting. The mechanical, automation reflected in the straw bales allow no room for romanticism, as found in the Shepard scenes paintings of the 18th century, or the light hearted paintings of the impressionists. In this rejecting every transfiguration lies the contemporariness of Rod Coyne's painting.

While the style of painting in the harvest series remains true to the image depicted, other series show a tendency towards abstraction and form reduction. In the picture "Dusk, Cill Rialaig House" 2001, the landscape experiences a dissolving into long bands of color contrasting blue and yellow. Wide, quick brushstrokes traverse the picture. The cottage with its ghostly gable end is equally fleetingly depicted. The rough architectural form is captured loosely - while all other shapes are simplified and reduced, the more its abstracted, the more the atmosphere is realized the color blocks alone. This is truest form of painting - as the fundamental principle of painting is the paint (i.e. paint control). The paint depicts the form, not the outline drawing. The natural conclusion all abstraction is monochrome, as practiced in successive modern movements, from Paul CÚzanne to Yves Klein, while having aesthetic value did prove to be an art historical cul-de-sac. The only exit was and is the rediscovery of figuration.

With the creditability of the tools and materials and handling of paint, painting has been able to hold its own against the new age of technical media art. As the German critic Wolfgang Max Faust credited the artists of the 80's with a "hunger for pictures". That same sentiment can be attributed to the young painters of today, to Rod Coyne and his peers.

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