Student Reflections: #4: Rudi Aker

Beaverbrook Art GalleryDecember 7, 20160 Comments

Student reflections: Randi

These student reflections have been written by Randi, a high school student undertaking a co-op program at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Her writing offers an insider’s view of the Gallery from a high school student’s perspective, and examines the exhibitions and programs being presented at the Gallery during her term.


Intellectually mislead, How it's supposed to be, and Debt of gratitude are three paintings of Rudi Aker's that are being currently shown in the Studio Watch exhibition. The paintings vary in their sizes and color schemes, but are united together by a common style that is quite evident upon viewing.

The colors used are all quite grotesque and overwhelming. There are words and sentences floating around on the canvas, either in the spotlight or hiding among the bits of messy imagery to be spotted upon a second (or third) viewing. There is no empty space to be seen, each section of the canvases are all equally filled with blotches of text and color. The imagery, text, and splashes of color all come together fittingly. At the same time, all three pieces are just as disorganized as the next. Purposeful chaos.

Rudi's use of color in her series is extremely effective. In her artist talk, she mentions how they're meant to make the viewer a little uncomfortable. There is contrast between the neon colors and the subjects of her paintings. She explains that the topics discussed in her paintings are dark, so the contrast is intentional. I found the colors to be effective because, for me, they truly express how it feels to be in a state of anxiety. They're suffocating in their vibrancy. They are almost too busy to make sense of right away. Anxiety can be the most overwhelming experience, and her paintings that represent very well.

The first thing I noticed about her paintings is the use of text. Using words in a piece of visual art is something that isn't used as often. When she does it, it's very striking. The sentences are formed in a rambly fashion, imitating how a thought process looks when your brain is running on overdrive. It can be hard to have articulate thoughts when your head is going 100mph.

During her artist talk I spoke to her; "The use of text in a painting is something I find isn't very common, but it's really impactful. When I first saw the paintings, I started crying because it just hit that hard. So, expressing these really heavy topics, has it helped you move on from them or has it given you any relief?"

"Yeah, in a lot of ways it's really helped me move on. It's like catharsis." She then mentions how it's like writing a letter to someone you have negative feelings towards but never sending it. When she's writing the things on her paintings, she explains that it's like shedding all the excesses of her anxious feelings. Confronting them and laying them to rest, eventually.

I find art is therapeutic in many ways. It's liberating and remedial to be able to get all of your thoughts out in a way that is so illustrative. Art has the ability to free you, by creating it and viewing it.

When you see your inner most feelings and thoughts depicted so clearly it's reassuring. It lets you know that you're not alone. Despite there being 7 billion people on this earth, a problem we all commonly face is loneliness. Art can be great company, like a friend who understands you.
Rudi's art is strikingly successful in its endeavors to represent feeling. When we hear about abstract art conveying emotion, it can be hard to truly understand what that means until we experience it for ourselves. Rudi's art is a great example of this, and is no doubt worth a visit.


Studio Watch: Emerging Artist – Painting is curated by Jeffrey Spalding and organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. The series is made possible through the generous contribution of Earl and Sandy Brewer. The exhibition is on display from October 22, 2016 through January 15, 2017. You can learn more about it here.

Photo Gallery

Leave a Comment