A California native, Aubrey Rhodes began her full-time painting career in San Francisco. In 2009, she moved to Melbourne, Australia, and continues to paint full-time. While Rhodes’ work is figurative, beneath those figurative forms lies an abstract world of words and media, one that is comprised of daily headlines, tabloid imagery, and glossy advertisements.
“I’m fascinated by human motivation. I’m convinced that external circumstances influence the construct of an individual’s identity, and I represent these forces in my art in the form of iconic imagery, pop-culture, advertising, media, and entertainment.”
From such challenging issues as child abuse within the Catholic Church to the violent relationship between Hindus and Muslims, Rhodes’ paintings present topics for consideration. Her signature style of figurative painting upon a densely collaged background works to create a narrative with an open ending, a story that begins and ends with hope for a world built upon human kindness, awareness, independent thought and personal responsibility.
“I represent the duality of the human psyche in my work by dividing my canvas into two planes: a figurative foreground and an abstract background. The collaged background is an exploration of the subconscious and the external influences that we allow to shape our opinions and ambitions as we search for social relevance and individual identity. The figurative work symbolizes the outcome those influences have on our behavior and puts into question the authenticity of our resulting individuality.”
Rhodes uses imagery that is familiar to us all, photos we’ve seen repeatedly, as symbols of a shared social consciousness. She invites viewers to apply their own cognitive associations to the image, thereby making the meaning of the painting personal to each individual. The images she chooses to work from are generally historical, borrowed from comic books, fairy-tales, or religion. This imagery carries with it a set of predetermined opinions and emotions that society, as a whole, has applied and accepted–while the collage beneath provokes the viewer to look differently at this symbol and question an alternative meaning and immediate significance.
Aubrey Rhodes graduated from USF in 2005 with an MFA. Before painting full-time, she taught fiction-writing workshops at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has been featured in a number of newspapers and well-known magazines in both the US and Australia. She has been published in the prestigious New York Studio Visit Magazine three times since 2011, and her painting, “Envy Me,” was chosen as issue 14’s cover-art. A selection of her work is currently on offer from Art Equity Gallery in Sydney, Australia, and The Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio.