Brian Rideout is a Toronto-based painter. His work explores our connection to the past and the new images that “will reveal to future generations the facets and sensibilities of this time in history.” (via) He graduated from Georgian College in 2008 and has exhibited in Toronto, Montreal and New York. His recent show at AC Repair Co. titled Resilient Floors included, to paraphrase his words: paintings of rooms, paintings of Italy and a carpet on the gallery floor to make visitors feel like they are in a room.
This summer, I built a new studio outside behind my house. It used to just be a shed made from 4×4 posts with a roof sitting on stilts—it was full of garbage. I spent two months clearing it out, building up the walls and sealing it a bit, but there’s still big holes in the ceiling. It’s been great for making big paintings. Since I graduated from school, I’ve always had live/work spaces. The idea of sharing a studio space with someone is absolutely awful. I just don’t want to hang out with other people all day. I’ve spent so much time alone and it’s the greatest thing in the world.
I’m a pretty regimented worker because I worked for Kent Monkman for four years. I’m use to painting nine-to-five, five days a week for Kent—plus my own practice. A year ago I got too busy to work for him, but I still keep that schedule. My mood changes in the evening and I don’t like to paint. I just don’t have the focus. Because my painting style is thin, I don’t like to do a second layer. It takes really intense focus to make sure I get everything right on the first pass, with the first brushstroke. If I’m not feeling it, for whatever reason, it’s better to stop than to try and push through it, fuck it up and try to fix it, which ultimately never works.
Learning how to do art as a job is a really important thing. It can be super hard to know what steps to take when you’re building your art career. There’s value in growing the work over time, putting in time to make sure your work is actually good and making sure that it represents what you want it to represent. Recently we saw a big crash of the young minimalist bro painting market and it was a good wake-up call. My paintings are really traditional, sometimes even cheesy interiors, but I think they’re against what has been happening in the art world for so long.
The interiors have been my longest running series. For source material, I buy tons of old interior design books. They’re amazing historical documents. To pull images, I keep a really critical eye while looking through the books. You have to treat the content as if it’s already part of a museum and when things strike you as artistic or painterly, they can be used as the starting point for a new work.
It’s not photorealism, I’m really trying to make paintings of pictures. That means, treating the source as an object on its own and painting the surface. The inaccuracies and the printing process of the source photo is part of it—depending on what the source is, I’ll end up pulling out a lot of interesting colour flourishes and stuff on the printing. For example, you get pinks and greens because it’s a low-res image and the printer was trying to make sense of how the colours are supposed to go together when it’s just printing CMYK. The printer makes these weird decisions and you get these flourishes of colour that I like to keep in the image. Generally the paintings are less about interiors and more about what they represent to culture and the history of painting and contemporary images.
I’m also using this space for Laundry Room, a series of one-night group shows. Everything got cleared out and we had 14 artists in here. It’s a community celebration—an awesome party with great work. Laundry Room was my first real curatorial adventure, and doing that for all these other people was just the best. In Toronto, you’ve got to make use of what you can because everyone’s getting kicked out of their studios and the galleries are shutting down. It’s crazy.
—Brian Rideout, as told to Studio Beat
Photos by Julia Macerola