DUDE (Let Us Now Praise Famous Men) by Francis Ruyter
Image: Dude girls on a corral fence, Quarter Circle U roundup, Montana —Arthur Rothstein, 1939
Opening: Friday 20th September, 19:00
Mz* Baltazar’s Laboratory, Wallensteinstraße 38-40/8, 1200, Vienna
Trail Mixer: 11th October, 17:00 – 19:00, within the Independent Space Index
Finissage: 18th October, 19:00
Francis Ruyter’s recent paintings seem aligned with familiar forms of abstraction strategies, and they continue to support his investigation into forms of representation and the life and death of photographs. “Dudes (Let Us Now Praise Famous Men)” is another installment of Ruyter’s project using the very Famous archive of depression-era photographs collected under the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information and currently housed at The Library of Congress in Washington DC. This archive plays a pivotal role in the development of American Identity.
Cowboys have been linked through art, cinema and advertising to romanticized versions of these American identities, as well as certain ideas of masculinity. The images found in this documentation of America in the 30’s and 40’s using the search words like ‘cowboy’ ‘cattle hand’ ‘dude’ turn up images that are a bit more culturally and gender diverse than the heroic, white and male than what has become familiar. Sometimes they are a little sad.
Ruyter’s translation of these photos have taken a different turn than his signature style. He begins now with a computer analysis of the source photo using a popular photoshop filter, rather than indexing the photo via a trace – drawing. This framework becomes a container for controlled yet playful stylistic treatment of color and mark making. The tension in the works lies between the controlled aspects of edges and containers and the uncontrollable aspects that slip those borders like color relationships and the seductiveness and disappointment that come with painting, as well as the entropy involved in the reproduction of images through time and space and medium.