Mixed Greens is pleased to present Rudy Shepherd’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. Falling Together will consist of large and small-scale portrait paintings as well as mixed media works.
For the past few years, Shepherd has been fascinated with the definition of evil, complicated theories of criminal intent, and the idea of negative energy being transmitted throughout the world. His subjects were, in most cases, strangers—people he read about in the newspaper or heard about on the news. The more he examined their lives and internalized their stories, the more he was drawn to the struggles and triumphs of those closer to him, including members of his own family.
In this exhibition, Shepherd addresses conflict, tragedy, frustration, hope, and accomplishment by painting the portraits of loved ones and tragic figures from our collective past. Knowing that everyone faces adversity at some point in their life, he has identified people who have made choices: to give up, to take control, or to become a positive force in the lives of others. Most of the paintings are intimate, small-scale renderings of people Shepherd identifies with in one way or another—either through love, respect, or deep fascination. Some are people Shepherd is transfixed by because of their leadership, however misguided, when trying to change the world.
As a foil to the more intimate likenesses are pieces that Shepherd titles the “Healers.” These large-scale portraits hang like Byzantine saints on gold backgrounds. People like Octavia Butler, Sun Ra, Fela Kuti, Frantz Fanon, and Alice Coltrane are painted with admiring respect. In addition, Shepherd has created his own healer character—a humanoid figure with a negative energy absorber sculpture in the place of a head. The character appears regal and confident in some depictions, but weary and downtrodden in others—the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Rudy Shepherd received his BFA from Wake Forest University (1998) and his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago (2001). Since then, he has had solo exhibitions at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA (2003); Mixed Greens, NYC (2004, 2005, 2008); and Location One, NYC (2009). His group show venues include the Studio Museum in Harlem; The Warehouse Gallery, Syracuse, NY; Triple Candie, NYC; the Swiss Institute, NYC; PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY; the Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, MD; the Bronx Museum of Art, NYC; the Queens Museum of Art, NYC; Flux Factory, Long Island City, NY; Analix Forever, Geneva, Switzerland; and George Adams Gallery, NYC. He received a fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY in 2006.