O'Born Contemporary


Eyes Without a Face

Noel Rodo–Vankeulen, Solo Exhibition

November 17 – December 22, 2012


exhibition statement

Rodo-Vankeulen's work, disparate in both subject and style, seems to follow our chaotic and ever-changing economy of images. His photographs are never tied to one type of gesture. Instead, they span a range of working treatments from concept to print - straight photographs, scans and digital manipulations. He produces both singular and mini-serial works that often deny concrete readings, enlisting themes and motifs in constant flux. These works, many of which are rooted in common subject matter (sunsets, pictures of wildlife, low-fi studio arrangements, etc) use the 'everyday' as a starting point or ground for greater formal and referential visual structures. Here, through interventions such as multiple exposures or in-camera filters, figuration bleeds into abstraction and photographs based on the traditional idea of the still-life, portrait or landscape begin to slip between genres.

In Goldfinch (Summer Plumage), a bird, perched on the edge of a mirror in a garden setting, appears to gaze at its own reflection. It is generally accepted that all birds except the European Magpie (and perhaps some pigeons) do not possess self-awareness. Rodo-Vankeulen suggests a number of associations here: Ideas surrounding new imaging technologies lead to notions of one's role as picture-maker today. As a pictorial motif, the Goldfinch, in its colourful summer plumage (but shot in black and white), reflects at its core, an anxiety of contemporary 'looking'. It does so specifically in the complex picture world of the 21st Century. This idea is further echoed in the triptych Tungsten Movement. Here, Rodo-Vankeulen has, as the title suggests, photographed the changing indoor light cast off a still-life as it was moved by the artist's hand. The golden light, captured by using negative daylight film, collapses, along with the light's resulting abstractions. And so all pictures ultimately fall to the same fate, buckling into flat pictorial space. However, by focusing on this in-between 'aura' the shades of yellow that criss-cross the image surface seem to, in fact, flicker with three-dimensions both literally and psychologically.

Sometimes familiar and often strange, Rodo-Vankeulen's Eyes Without a Face unfolds the dynamics embedded in all pictures. His photographs point toward an increasingly sophisticated visual oscillation present in today's images - Acting out new structures of seeing and opening up new contextual spaces.

about the artist

Noel Rodo-Vankeulen (born 1982) is an artist and writer who lives and works in Brampton, ON, Canada and holds a BFA in Visual Arts from York University in Toronto. Selected exhibitions include: "After Color" at Bose Pacia in New York, which traveled to galleries at Savannah College of Art & Design; "Where is Here", part of the Flash Forward Festival; "Graphic Intersections" at the Umbrage Gallery in New York; "One Hour Photo" at The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC; and "Young Curators, New Ideas" at the Bond Street Gallery in New York. His work has been featured in various publications including UK-based Twin Magazine, Lay Flat: Meta, Daylight Magazine, and the book 100 New Artists by Dazed and Confused Arts Editor Francesca Gavin which is published by Laurence King.

Rodo-Vankeulen's critical and editorial writing has been included in such publications as the Toronto-based Hunter and Cook Magazine, Foam International Photography Magazine, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's book Words Without Pictures and the second volume Lay Flat: Meta, an annual journal of photography.

© Noel Rodo- Vankeulen, Goldfinch (Summer Plumage), 2012