Painter Jude Rae is an acclaimed artist who treats the traditional genre of still-life with a contemporary ethos. She has received wide recognition for her paintings, including for her portraiture and interior scenes too.Read More
The daughter of Australian figurative painter David Rae, Rae grew up surrounded by art. She studied studio practice at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney (1975), and then art history at the University of Sydney (1980). After gaining a Graduate Diploma in Professional Art Studies at the City Art Institute (1984), she completed a MFA at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1993. When living in Christchurch, Rae became the first director of South Island Art Projects, a spaceless institution that later was transmuted into The Physics Room.
Acclaimed for the contemplative stillness and highly skilled execution of her still-lives, Jude Rae is also much admired for her portraits and architectural interiors.
Rae's early paintings often involved sections of language juxtaposed with images of crumpled sheets that were spatially ambiguous and evocative. An absent sleeping body could have just left indentations on the bed or the sheets might have been shrouds covering a recumbent corpse.
Rae was very interested in the writing of Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault, a French psychiatrist trained in art who studied the traditional dress of Moroccan women and the folding of the draped heavy white cloth that they wore. Clérambault's Dream (1994) is like the musical arrangement of a long, pale grey, rippling curtain; Counterpoint (1996) features taut stretched diagonal folds.
Usually austere and avoiding gentility, Rae's still life paintings exude an industrial ambience, while referencing earlier periods in art history, especially Dutch, Italian, and French still life, even though many works have a modernist emphasis of a flat picture plane and a compositional interest in geometry.
Through her studying of artists like Jean-Siméon Chardin, Pieter Claesz, and Giorgio Morandi, Rae's elegant images of fastidiously positioned ceramics and glassware on tabletops became in the new millennium what she is best known for. Their surfaces rendered under soft, raking light, they blend realism with abstraction, for although the perspectival space is deliberately shallow, the reflections on flat planes or curvilinear glazed forms play an important role. Sometimes she includes contemporary objects like buckets of paint or gas cylinders, as in SL 355 (2016) or SL 306 (2013).
The subjects of Jude Rae's portraits include many public Australian and New Zealand dignitaries and personalities, which she has been commissioned to paint. These include Dame Sian Elias, Linda Burney MP, Michael Horton, and Professor Frank Fenner.
Rae's more recent large paintings of dark shadowy rooms with glowing windowed corridors and ambiguous reflecting vistas are often ominous and moody, designed to extend the real space of the room the work is hung in. Architectural space itself—illusory or palpable—is Rae's subject matter, as is light passing through large sheets of glass. See for example Interior 370 (foyer 1) (2017).
The artist has received multiple awards throughout her career, including the Bulgari Award (Art Gallery of New South Wales) in 2016, and the Portia Geach Memorial Award for Portraiture in 2005 and 2008.
Significant solo exhibitions include Painting as Model, Two Rooms, Auckland (2021); 424 - 428, The Commercial, Sydney (2020); Recent Paintings, Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane (2019); Recent Paintings, Two Rooms, Auckland (2019); Jude Rae, Fox Jensen McCrory Gallery, Auckland (2018); Jude Rae: A Space of Measured Light, Australian National University Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra (2017).
Significant group exhibitions include Recent Acquisitions, Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Sydney (2018); The Popular Pet Show, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra (2016); Archibald Prize, AGNSW, Sydney (2014); */52, Jonathan Smart Gallery, Christchurch (2013); Dobell Drawing Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2012).
Jude Rae's artwork is held in collections across Australia and New Zealand, including Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington; ACT Legislative Assembly Art Collection, Canberra; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; University of Auckland Art Collection, Auckland; Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu.
Jude Rae's website can be found here, and her Instagram here.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2021