“Most of the paintings were done after the end of a relationship. I should’ve called the exhibition ‘heartbreaker’… I escaped to the Yorkshire Dales and found solace. I thought a lot about nature; its scale and its power. How it can unify but how it can isolate, all in the blink of an eye… You don’t want to sleep in case you miss a bit…”
The independent gallery RedHouse Originals in Harrogate are readying themselves for the opening of their new exhibition by local Leeds artist David Rusbatch. The exhibition will comprise of a series of exciting and personal contemporary paintings, which will see the artist develop from his more usual portraits, to landscapes, still in his unique, bold style.
Rusbatch works up his canvases with a combination of layers of oil paint, fluorescent light gels, collage and heavy gloss varnishes, creating results which feel excitingly new.
As Rusbatch explains, “We have started to call them the ‘neo-landscape paintings’. I spent a lot of time in Malham, so several pictures were directly inspired by days and nights spent up there… It was an escape, but not without an edge. When you are in the woods and dusk falls, it transforms the landscape, and the solace is soon replaced by fear and utter isolation…”
The artist has captured this sense of apprehension by contrasting the vibrant colours and patterns with black backgrounds, to the effect of making the colours glow. Delicate and symbolic motifs such as white roses and butterflies punctuate his work, evoking the landscape and the heritage.
“Seldom have I seen art so infused with the very spirit of its theme. It’s experimental, engaging, playful and… Unafraid of the dark” – Maxi Jazz, Faithless
His first exhibition since 2014 show ‘Lost & Found’, Rusbatch is now in the fortunate position of having a waiting list for his work: his reputation is growing and his work can be found in numerous private collections throughout the UK and Europe.
It is certainly an exciting time for the artist, who remains on an upward trajectory since becoming one of the youngest ever exhibitors at the National Design Museum in 2008. The following year, his work was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2009, a feat in itself, which was met with both critical and commercial acclaim.
Since then, Rusbatch has exhibited alongside renowned artist Julian Opie and one of the original British pop artists Gerald Laing, as well as participating in other successful exhibitions in London.
Away from his innovative landscapes, themes of popular culture, celebrity and genius reoccur in his work, as do ideas of creation and destruction.
This exhibition, however, will be a return home for the artist, having been born in Leeds in 1979. The RedHouse Originals gallery, based in the centre of Harrogate, specialises in Pop and Modern art and photography, therefore providing the perfect location for Rusbatch’s work. This time though, it is made all the more meaningful by the paintings being of the local surroundings. On asked on the significance of showing the paintings of the Yorkshire Dales in the county, Rusbatch replied:
“Yorkshire, its people, its comedy are all hewn out of the unique and harsh landscape. The stubbornness of Yorkshire folk echo the slabs of limestone at Malham that fearlessly remain in rain and storm. … To show paintings of Yorkshire in Yorkshire firmly anchors me, and creates an outpouring of pride and belonging… and hopefully an honesty that is so hard to harness in art. It has become very much a subconscious freeing process, as I know the landscapes so well. … Malham is a favourite of mine, for the variety of the landscape in such a small area, a place that seems so quaint, then so intimidating round the next corner.”
This sense of local pride comes through in his experimental and innovative work, so it comes to no surprise that it is proving so popular – this exhibition is not to be missed.
David Rusbatch: I Used To Sleep At Night
RedHouse Originals Gallery, Harrogate HG1 1DW
Exhibition runs from the 24th June to 23rd July 2016, Monday to Saturday 10am – 5pm. Free Entry.
Special thanks to the artist for the images and statements.
Words: Catriona Gilmore