Brian Rutenberg: Nature, Abstracted

Art & Antiques Magazine

The Jerald Melberg Gallery will present "Banners of the Coast", an exhibition of paintings by Brian Rutenberg, on view through February 18. "Banners of the Coast", the gallery's ninth solo exhibition of the artist's works, features new oil paintings on linen and paper.


Rutenberg's abstracted landscapes meditate on the contrasting elements of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where the artist was born and raised. The paintings focus on the tension between the natural beauty of the East Coast landscape, and the neon-soaked city, full of amusement parks and arcades. This contrast is illuminated in abstraction, placing both the artist and viewer in the space between the natural and man-made world.


Vibrant palettes of the paintings Morning Heat, Spear the Water, and Banner of the Coast (Sandspur), all feature a bright yellow light and appear to glow from within. The mark making in Morning Heat recalls how light refracts through trees and suggests a clearing. The emotional resonance of the works springs from the autobiographical nature of the place, while offering a universal language about the beauty of nature.


Despite South Carolina's Low Country providing inspiration to the artist, Rutenberg has lived and worked in New York City for over half of his life. He received a BFA from the College of Charleston and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the College of Charleston. The artist makes a point that the landscapes we were raised in bear a powerful emotional resonance despite where we may end up. The works in "Banners of the Coast" communicate in harmony that place is derived from both physical senses and from sense-memory.

February 1, 2023