Studio Visit with David Rice
On an unusually hot April day in Portland, I made the trek across the Broadway Bridge to the North Coast Seed Building where David Rice has been tirelessly working on a new body of work. Located in an industrial part of town, the building lies next to a railroad with modern day hobos often hanging around waiting for the next train. Graffiti that looks like the work of local rebels adorns neighboring urban architecture. Though this isn't the first time I've visited the studio, it is the first time where new works will be in progress and the excitement of what's in store washes over me. I enter the studio and I'm immediately captivated by a gorgeous large scale painting featuring a monkey holding a branch and wrapped in a space blanket set against a piercing blue sky and red horizon. From a distance, the blanket looks as if it's made of gold foil, but upon further inspection I realize it's the intricate details that make it appear so. We discuss the cinematic quality of the painting and how it's reminiscent of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. David mentions that many people who have seen this piece think of man-kind's evolution and although that wasn't his original intent, he does aim for anthropomorphic figures.
As I look around the studio at paintings in various stages of completion, David goes back to his easel to continue working on a piece. This particular piece is noteworthy as it's absent of natural background and depicts a plastic deer typically used as shooting practice for hunters. Several arrows have hit the deer though no bullseyes--at least not when I was visiting. The male figure on top is actually a self portrait and the backpack symbolizes the 'baggage' we carry over the years. I ask David what's he carrying and he coyly shies away from answering.
As I continue to explore each work, i notice how design and nature intertwine to create a new narrative among man and beast. And where Rice's previous series focused on our dominant cohabitation with animals, this latest collection entitled 'High Alpine' elevates nature to a more equal position with man. In short, David's latest work offers levels of complexity with flawless execution that is absolutely stunning.
David Rice High Alpine opens Thursday May 26th, 2016 at Antler Gallery, 2728 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR 97211, www.antlerpdx.com