It is not difficult to account for the success of Renny Tait’s paintings. Many of his subjects have immediate and enduring appeal: Venetian churches, medieval fortresses and Roman ruins are typical motifs. And where the subject lacks an obvious beauty of its own, Tait’s mastery of lighting and composition works a strange, potent magic, so that normally prosaic buildings like grain silos and power stations could happily hold their pediments high in the architectural firmament.
Through this levelling of the aesthetic hierarchy, Tait conjures up an eerie architectural utopia where all buildings are created equally. By displacing each one into a featureless, uninhabited wilderness, banishing all sense of scale through his universal head-on perspective, and illuminating every subject with the same heavenly glow, Tait forces us to re-evaluate the whole notion of archetypal beauty.
Tait began his career as an abstract painter, and perhaps still approaches his work with an abstract artist’s mentality. This is evidenced in his to proneness to reduce forms to their bare geometry and flatten the picture plane to accentuate the edges of the canvas. Tait is also deeply conscious of the great tradition of painting and looks to the Old Masters, most notably, Giovanni Bellini, Titian and Poussin, for inspiration. This underlying structure, supported by the artist’s classical skill and painterly sensibility, creates a visual harmony that is both powerful and seductive.
Renny Tait was born in Scotland and studied at the Edinburgh College of Art, the Royal College of Art, London, and the British School in Rome. His work is included in a number of private and public collections including the Royal College of Art and the Tate Collection.