Robert LaDuke: Anamnesis
September 11, 2019 - Kelly Carper
Anamnesis, the title for Robert LaDuke’s solo exhibition, is defined as “the remembering of things from a supposed previous existence.” Whether that refers to resurfaced childhood memories, faint recollections of past experience or completely imagined worlds – LaDuke’s work pulls us in with feelings of nostalgia and images from an idyllic American life. “I’m still combining dreams and memories of childhood with a touch of reality thrown in,” says LaDuke of his exhibition paintings. “Something about building my own world that never really existed appeals to me.”
Robert LaDuke’s latest work is a continuation of his illustrative, narrative painting style with transportation-oriented subjects – from literal depictions of trains, planes and cars, to drive by views of roadside diners and motels. His imagery takes the viewer back in time to the 1930s and 40s with period correct styles, yet presents each scene in full, saturated color. “Under the Stars,” a 22 x 22” acrylic painting, depicts an airstream trailer parked in front of a seemingly familiar southwest rock formation, which glows beneath a moonlit sky. Scenes like this may be reminiscent of the artist’s childhood, where summers were spent road tripping and camping in national parks. While the imagery is based on the artist’s personal experience and may even look familiar to the viewer – it’s a fabricated moment. “I'm creating a past that looks somewhat convincing but in reality never existed,” says LaDuke.
Other pieces have stronger symbolism or more specific narratives; “Mulligan” is inspired by a children’s book whose ending disturbed LaDuke as a young boy. “I’ve wanted to paint a steam shovel ever since,” he says. “Garage” depicts a 1930s Buick pulled halfway behind a small garage. “I remember my Grandfather working on his car with it partially backed out of the single car garage,” recalls the artist. “The painting is about him without actually depicting him.”
Memories of family members and childhood experiences are often layered in LaDuke’s paintings as obscure references that remain unknown to the viewer. The artist isn’t necessarily trying to keep his sentiments a secret; he just wants to give the viewer an opportunity to bring their own meaning or story to the painting. “I like it very much when the viewer connects a personal memory or experience with something they see, or perceive to be happening, in a painting,” he says.
Join us for Robert LaDuke’s solo exhibition, Anamnesis opening Friday, September 27thfrom 5-7pm at the gallery. Preview his latest work here.
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