Over the past twenty-five years, Rhodes has produced a body of paintings and drawings rich in resonance and complexity. Assimilating influences from photography on one hand to pure abstraction on another, her work finds a unique territory within contemporary painting and drawing.
Rhodes’ landscapes are fictional syntheses resulting from a re-mixing of readymade imagery. Drawing from an eclectic range of photographic material, she combines fragments from different sources to create compositions that become the skeleton for her paintings.
Rhodes makes small-scale paintings which depict the interaction of natural geography and human intervention. Her paintings often place us on or near the edge of urban environments, seen from an aerial viewpoint, eerily distant from the world below. There is a mismatch between the vast landscapes depicted and the tiny scale and detail of the paintings, while symbols of mobility – airports or motorways – are curiously stilled and empty.
Born in Edinburgh, the artist was brought up in Bengal, near Kolkata, and the surroundings of her early life have had an enormous influence on her. Many other factors have fed into her visual language, from Medieval Italian painting and Indian court miniatures to Science Fiction literature – all of which might be said to share a peculiar, controlled divergence from naturalism.
“The first city I knew was Calcutta. I grew up in an industrial town nearby. Recently a friend who had visited there showed me a photograph of Calcutta taken from a high building. I was taken aback to see the ingredients of my paintings laid out: the faded pinks and greens and the flat roofs of the seaside architecture I’m drawn to.”
As well as rarely seen early paintings, Carol Rhodes: Survey includes a number of drawings that have never been exhibited before. This exhibition reveals just how individual Rhodes’ achievement is in current painting.