Russell Gordon’s paintings join precise Realism with a painterly luminosity, a stylistic combination reminiscent of Italian Mannerism and 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings, but rarely encountered in contemporary art.
Even his materials reflect those of the past: he manufactures his own oil paint using a medium (Maroger medium) reformulated from that used by Flemish artists. At the same time, Gordon’s subject matter often shows a decidedly contemporary viewpoint, enlivened by his highly personalized sense of humor.
In the end, the extraordinary impact of Gordon’s art reflects both the contemporary and the past: it is centered in his astonishing technique, combining the sense of visual realistic presence only obtained by painting from very careful and thorough observation, with a luminous glow we associate with the works of the Old Masters. About choosing the subjects for a painting, Gordon says that it often starts with a theme. “I usually begin with an idea and then set up the objects with it in mind. I rearrange the objects until they match my idea…Although, it would be possible to paint only from imagination, it is far better to have some model before me during the evolution of the painting,” says the artist. He continues, “Even while I’m working on a painting, I discover relationships and symbols within the still-lifes that add to the pictures.” Viewers of Gordon’s work are often reminded of Dutch vanitas themes, which hint at life’s fragility while reveling in its pleasures. Recently Gordon has turned his attention to producing paintings of American birds and their natural surroundings inspired by a very early influence on his artistic development, the works of John James Audubon.
Born in 1968, Gordon received his undergraduate and graduate art education at the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore, and later worked as an apprentice to the artist Will Wilson. In the past his work has been exhibited in the national open juried shows of the Allied Artists of America, the American Artists Professional League, the Oil Painters of America, as well as the Arnot Art Museum and the Butler Institute of American Art. "My goal is to produce a relatively small number of richly detailed, highly polished works each year. Each canvas requires a full year of preparation and drying before it can be brought to the easel. My painting medium is a brilliantly versatile oleo-resinous formula rediscovered by Jacques Maroger and Ann Schuler from that used by the Old Masters. My paints are ground by hand for each day's session. I design, construct and gild many of my own frames and intend that each finished piece will be a compelling work of fine art for this and future generations."