Dancers – Variations in Blue, Rainer Schlüter
This month Umbrella Studio hosts the work of artist Rainer Schlüters the winner of the Townsville City Council’s Strand Ephemera 2013. Rainer won with his work Blue Dancers (Danseuses Bleues) Quintet – a set of five electric ultra-marine blue painted pieces of driftwood, which appear to be dancing or caressing one another in pairs. The work is striking! He references Henri Matisse‘s blue dancer series, and Alberto Giacometti‘s sculptures – both artists who portray the human form in imaginative ways. If Matisse’s prints and Giacometti’s sculptures had children, Rainer’s work is exactly what you’d expect them to look like. Dancing along the beach at Strand Ephemera, the forms captured the attention of thousands of viewers during the public sculpture show.
In the current exhibition at Umbrella Studio, Rainer has expanded and adapted the work for the gallery setting. The blue dancers return – however they are much more varied. At the outdoor sculpture show the work was roughly the same dimensions. His current exhibition has blue dancers ranging from just a meter high, to almost the ceiling. The ultramarine blue blazes into your retina, sitting against the white exhibition mounts, making sure no one walking past the glass front of the gallery can miss it.
Another addition for the gallery is the totemic masks made from palm fronds. Tribal carvings can be seen on the palm fronds which are also painted with the ultramarine blue colour, and with gold acrylic detailing too. The masks are held up on props made from beach wood, the same material used to create the graceful dancers. The blue and gold painting and tribal markings bring a sense of faux regalia and opulence to the work . The colours are similar to what you might find on a King or Ruler’s costume.
Rainer also adds more to the exhibition with marble carvings. Using local and imported marble, images of the human form are depicted in the marble (with a deep engraving), or from the marble (sculpture) (though both methods are subtractive). Again, the ultramarine blue colour has been used to outline or highlight the figures.
2D work has also been added to the mix. Rainer has framed paintings of blue dancer figures outlined in gold. He also makes interesting use of the framing process – the painting extends out of the image area and onto the matting. It seems he just can’t escape 3D work! But it does work for him. The signature is also in gold pen and sits on top of the matting.
Lastly, a display cabinet showcases some miniature sculptures alongside other affordable small works for those looking to collect Rainer’s art. A variety of found materials are used again: wood, stone, sticks, and glass. The colours are gold and ultramarine blue again. You might expect this to get monotonous, but the exhibition is incredibly well-themed and with the differences and variety of all the work – it isn’t tiring to see the same colours. It could be that less vibrant colour would not give the overall exhibition the same impact.
Rainer’s work is poetic in the way it abstracts the human form, and sensitively references work by Matisse and Giacometti. He also mentions that the work “…[symbolises] the dance of nature and sea when exposed to stormy tropical winds.” with the work also representative of our relation to one another as humans, and denoting the fragile state of our existence.
Exhibition on display at Umbrella Studio contemporary arts until 06 April 2014.