Hugh G. Rice, "Prairie Hue," 2006, acrylic on canvas, 30" x 30".
HUGH G. RICE, From Irish Glen to Canadian Prairie
Woodlands Gallery, Winnipeg, MB
May 24 - June 9, 2007
By Lorne Roberts
“My work is pretty close to pure abstraction, with the landscape as a starting point,” says Hugh G. Rice, a painter who divides his time between Ireland and his newly adopted homeland on the Canadian prairies. In looking at his work, it’s clear what he means. His newest paintings, a series of more than two dozen acrylics on canvas, feature prairie landscape. There is an active, lively quality to the works, though, splashes of colour that suggest he’s as interested in capturing the mood of the land as the look of it. An interest in the work of the Abstract Expressionists, including Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, was furthered when Rice came to Canada and was exposed to the art of Jean-Paul Riopelle. Their “action painting” techniques show up in his own work. “(My) techniques are loose and experimental to a certain degree,” Rice says. “Sometimes (the paint) is poured, or flicked with a palette knife or even with my fingers.” And while he may be an abstractionist at heart, a love for the land is never far from the surface in Rice’s work. “I spend a lot of time in the landscapes that I paint,” Rice says, “often just sitting still within the spaces.” Taking that mood back to his studio, Rice has created a body of work that celebrates the landscape through his own interpretation rather than simply through reproduction.
Represented by: Woodlands Gallery, Winnipeg, MB; Galeries d'Art Beauchamp, Quebec; Nicholas Gallery, Belfast, Northern Ireland; Janet Ross Gallery, Ramelton, Co. Donegal, Ireland.