Rob de Oude makes straight lines bend. He achieves this perceptual effect through a rigorous and meticulous painting process, layering and weaving matrices of straight lines until, between the contrasting colors and crisscrossing patterns, grids begin to bow and warp. This visual slight, a more painterly and maximalist type of Op art, tricks the eye through sheer ocular overload. In an age of unabated visional stimulation, these super-imposed networks speak of digital delirium, increased connectivity between disparate points and, perhaps most crucially, unbridled visual pleasure.
Much like a web — whether of fiber-optic cables or spider-spun silk — de Oude’s compositions have a seductive power that’s difficult to escape. Indeed, each piece reveals more of itself the longer viewers’ eyes remain caught in its patterns. The many precise and overlapping threads begin to separate and become distinct, previously unnoticed hues emerge, and the compositions seem to shape-shift and spin as viewers parse the works’ optical static. The latticework of lineaments slowly reveals its inner logic.
De Oude’s paintings demand contemplative and close engagement beyond their immediately gripping visual tricks. Looking at a piece can induce a trance-like immersion not unlike his painting process. A surprisingly simple rig with clamps and ruled edges allows for an infinite variety of fine lines applied in dozens of layers over a base of airbrushed neon clouds. By juxtaposing contrasting hues, he builds up a complex mesh whose individual strands can only be teased out on close inspection.
For his exhibition at Galerie Gourvennec Ogor, de Oude will be showcasing four series of works, two of which are recent developments in his practice and feature the tilted perspectives that give the show its title. In addition to sets of large canvases and wall pieces, he has begun experimenting with rotated canvases for his newest and brightest medium-sized paintings. Full of competing shapes and shifting colors, these canted works throw the composition further off balance, suggesting new potential horizons. And in sharp contrast to recent pieces dominated by Day-Glo blues, lime greens and radioactive yellows, de Oude has pared down his palette to create his first series of monochrome paintings. Without the complex interplay of colors, these works focus attention on line and geometry in a manner that evokes the likes of Bridget Riley or Victor Vasarely.
In all four series featured here, however, de Oude demonstrates his prodigious talent for turning rigid grids into enveloping nets. What he calls attention to, above all else, is how willingly our eyes can be seduced from linear ways of thinking and looking into swirling patterns of color and webs of lines designed to ensnare vision. As we let ourselves become lost in the grids, like optical flâneurs wandering a boundless maze, previously invisible images shift into focus.
Rob de Oude was born in the Netherlands and studied at Amsterdam’s Hoge School voor de Kunsten and SUNY Purchase in New York. He currently lives in Brooklyn and has his studio in Queens, where he is also the co-director of the gallery Parallel Art Space. – Benjamin Sutton
TILT at Galerie Gourvennec Ogor, 11/15/2012 – 01/05/2013
Imagine if Georges Seurat decided to copy Frank Stella and Agnes Martin. – John Haber/haberarts.com
Rob de Oude creates abstract paintings built from the most basic visual element, the line. He has devised handmade rigs in his studio that allow him to precisely measure and systematically paint row upon row of lines on his canvasses. By introducing shifting angles and layers of new color, he establishes self-generating patterns of rhythm and a relentless sense of motion. These layers of tightly spaced bands of color and collisions of angled lines produce changing optic effects, including moiré patterns that make his surfaces vibrate with an underlying energy. There is a scientific, mathematical basis to de Oude’s paintings, but also, an unexpected social, even spiritual aspect. He draws inspiration from pioneering abstract painters of the last century whose work embodied visionary, utopian ideas, among them, El Lissitzky, Malevich and Mondrian. Like these pioneering abstract painters, de Oude is dedicated to rigorous formal experimentation. But through the interplay of difference and repetition in each work – and more recently in his groupings of paintings – he evokes social networks, and the possibility of individual elements working together to create something anew. – Elizabeth Ferrer (for Mystics at BRIC Rotunda Gallery
Brow undoubtedly glistening with beads of sweat as one walks down a worn, navy blue carpeted hallway on the sweltering opening night, the corner is turned to find the door to unit 409 wide open. This is Arts and Sciences Project’s latest exhibition, showcasing the work of Brooklyn artist Rob de Oude. The viewer is greeted upon entering by a vibrantly pigmented wall-drawing behind five tightly hung sixteen inch square panels in white shadow box frames.
These works are joined in the gallery by more intimate drawings on paper in colored pencil, a larger painting on canvas, and a small video projection of an outdoor installation. Even in this smaller space, de Oude has a way of making what could be a bombardment of visual information quite cohesive.
Restricting himself to a linear articulation indicative of high modernism with an approach that seems to lend itself to process art and in the color palette of a young post-Ab Ex generation, Rob de Oude seems very comfortable bringing disparate parts together. His oeuvre, widely ranging in media, holds together formally in his inclination towards dryly-calculated linear articulations. Most attractive here are the smaller works of oil on panel.
These works reveal themselves slowly. Intense in hue saturation, intermeshings of planar structures unfold before the viewer’s eye. As time is taken to understand the paint layer by layer, the initially confrontational line collisions give way to reveal deeply receding, self-reflective spaces that invite viewer contemplation.
In this way, the works operate spatially as if each were a murky gem. They are able to be understood both for their convex physical appearance of rigid structure but also as spaces to be looked into- ponderously self-reflective matrices of competing color.
Each additive line laid down obscuring a wealth of information that came before it, every move of this process-driven work seems conscious of skillfully manipulating painting contradictions. Installation decisions further enforce this sentiment. The small paintings hung over the mural operate much in the same way as each of his lines, adding to the complexity of the overall composition by obscuring the information which came first. Inherently an additive process, this is as much about the work on view as it points to the addition/negation aspect of all painterly creation.
De Oude’s most abundant skill lies in corralling seemingly contradictory art themes to his advantage. The artist has a knack for creating work that attracts the eye with a brightly arresting outward appearance but holds the viewer’s attention through recognition of an academic pursuit of his visual idea. Like much painting work, his creations are harmed greatly by the flattening effect our addiction to technology forces upon us in the proliferation of art via jpeg. The sensitivity to color and space de Oude produces in his paintings are greatly rewarded through patient viewing in situ. Finding the meaty substance therein may take a few moments. The return however, will be worth the wait. Arts and Sciences Projects. June 9th- 26th 2011. – Matthew Hassel, Critic for NYArts Magazine
Rob de Oude’s paintings exist in the inter-space between methodology and intuition, between applied mathematics and rendered curiosity. De Oude’s paintings are composed entirely through the systematic layering, at varied and formulaic intervals, of straight lines of paint across stretched canvas or wood panel. These lines, like the interwoven lattice of tapestry or a “God’s Eye”, intersect at various points across the picture plane. Our eye “reads” these random yet regularly spaced points in concert, optically contributing to the work by visually “completing” the forms that are suggested therein; octagons, diamonds or in the case of this current body of work, crosses and cross outs.
The works in Crisscrosses + Cross Outs, share the central compositional element of a cross or letter X, which is indicated as much by paint applied as by under-painting revealed, a wonderful interplay between positive and negative shape. Intimating playful “tic-tac-toe” gestures, prohibitory X marks, and the placid, conservational movements of the windmills of the Dutch artists homeland, these shapes vibrate from background into fore, disintegrating just as others come sharply into focus.
All of these readings can be considered “correct” as the abstract artist stakes his claim less in the objectified end result of his work and more in the integrity and execution of his process. By applying the same set of mark-making and interval spacing to each of the four sides of his canvas, de Oude commits to a follow through that combines the intuitive with the systematic, and takes an idea or theory, through rigorous and exacting movements into actualized reality. The resultant totemic work straddles the line between art and optical science, with a process of discovery that is often the same for the viewer as it is for the artist, himself. – Enrico Gomez, Writer & Art Critic (written for Crisscrosses + Cross Outs at Arts & Sciences Projects)
“In de Oude’s works, straight lines are placed with mathematical precision and are layered to create dense systems of pattern. Found and readily available materials such as construction tape and mirrors are re-imagined as tools for transforming space. Though painstakingly precise, de Oude’s drawing process inherently lends itself to errors of the hand and mind. Rather than considering such missteps as destructive, they are instead used to guide a new direction in each work, allowing for a more complex matrix to unfold.” – Lauren van Haaften-Schick, curator