George Rush Walls, Windows, Rooms, People At the Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati Ohio

February 10th, 2017  |  Published in January/February 2017

George Rush complicates the privacy of domestic and gallery space with his exhibition Walls, Windows, Rooms, People at the Weston Gallery. Using changes in texture, color and spatial context, Rush asks the viewer to simultaneously act as voyeur and participant in his airy carefully planned pictures.

Rush visited the great Roman wall paintings in Italy over the last few years. In the National Archeological museum in Naples it is possible to be surrounded by astonishing spaces and scenes from just after the death of Jesus Christ. The frescoes represent amazingly modern depictions of space and atmosphere. The works are especially exciting for the way they create inventive interior space. For his show at the Weston, Rush painted a simple architectural setting directly onto the walls of the gallery. This pale wall painting serves to gently undermine the primacy of the traditional canvas works on view. Brightly lit large paintings depict an anonymous interior with a family of inhabitants in various stages of undress. The figures are thinly painted and schematic, clearly revealing their digital fabrication. Although Rush’s people are in vulnerable poses, intimacy is nowhere to be found.

In the space left by intimacy, escapism dominates. Beer cans litter the floor and the relationship between the man and woman is shown as imbalanced and dispassionate. There is some humor to be found in this narrative, as Rush’s insistence on it leaves room for a self- deprecating wink.

The Middle Period
Acrylic, pumice, and ink-jet printing on canvas
72″ x 100″

The most interesting parts of this show are to be found out the windows of the interior spaces. Rush has carefully calibrated his framing devices to provide context for the glowing wobbly forms of light that inhabit each window. This tension between the nearly mechanical interiors and hallucinogenic exterior views is the key to Rush’s project. By containing this dynamic visual experience within a window, Rush transforms it into longing. Even the texture of these exterior views is more active, but to experience this inviting energy we must ignore or marginalize our visions of the individuals that inhabit the space. Although Rush’s bright windows implore us to look out, their reward is the dark mystery of our interior.

–Emil Robinson

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