Terry Rodgers Sweet illusion at Torch Gallery in Amsterdam

By Doron Beuns 

Our experience of other people is essentially indirect. We rely on the sensual qualities of other people in order to get a grasp of their inner life. However, a substantial remainder of that inner life does not rise to a perceivable surface. Some things we keep to ourselves and other things could not even be put into words. Due to this limitation we are, at least in part, oblivious to the interior experiences of our fellow beings. This phenomenon seems to be at the chore of Terry Rodger’s latest show at Torch Gallery in Amsterdam.

Terry Rodgers, 2018, The Good Thing, courtesy Torch Gallery

‘Sweet Illusion’ showcases twenty two paintings that depict glamorously lean figures with scantily dressed bodies in luxurious environments. However, instead of figures at ease we find figures that are caught up in their own rumination. This rumination subsequently disables each figure to meaningfully engage with its environment. The figures in a Terry Rodgers painting are therefore infinitely trapped in their own shallowness and depth. Naked bodies become impenetrable membranes, draped fabrics become reflections of human listlessness, and half-empty glasses become signifiers of incompletion.

Terry Rodgers, 2019, Inside Out, courtesy Torch Gallery
Terry Rodgers, 2019, True Lies, courtesy Torch Gallery

The scenes look alluring at first but become increasingly problematic at closer inspection. Subtle nuances in brushwork, facial expression and composition subtly hint at the isolation of the multiple subjects. Rodgers is capable of exploring a dark aspect of human life without retreating to a subversive or murky visual language. His paintings rather depict a place where the rich environment and the lack of his subjects are at constant odds with each other. The paintings are on the one hand dreamlike but also strongly rooted in reality.

Terry Rodgers, 2018, Facial Recognition courtesy Torch Gallery
Terry Rodgers, 2018, Moonlight, courtesy Torch Gallery

A place where a bunch of neglected people look past each other seems a lot like planet earth at the moment. The difference is that in the real world disconnection is not an absolute condition. But it is precisely this absolute condition that gives a Terry Rodgers painting its haunting beauty. Solitude is a sublime thing. 

Terry Rodgers, 2018, Focal Point, courtesy Torch Gallery

*Sweet illusion by Terry Rodgers will be on view till the 28th of December at Torch Gallery in Amsterdam.

Doron Beuns