RONE’s portraits inhabit a grey-zone between beauty and decay, where the interplay between the two bestows his haunting images with meaning through their spectral, almost invisible, existence.
Defining beauty has been the modus operandi of many artists since time immemorial. Throughout that time, the definition of what we regard as beautiful has shifted, but its fundamental strength, the allure and charm it holds over those who witness it, is a permanent phenomenon.
By depicting beautiful women, Rone’s art is, at surface level, beautiful. The Australian artist draws a paradox between the content and the environment, choosing facades that are either rotting, peeling or broken, in areas that many would often overlook. Beauty, in a lifetime, fades. In art, this is true too. All creations are impermanent, but some artists incorporate the ephemerality of it into their works. Rone is one such artist.
Over time, Rone developed the multiplicity of aesthetic beauty to be a part of his technique, utilising a freehand style which allowed his works to feel rawer, integrating themselves onto the dilapidated backdrops where his large-scale murals would often be found. Now, just like the surroundings, his female faces become weathered, slowly becoming a part of the building, rather than something just painted onto it.
Because of the questioning nature of the work, it's doused with a bitter melancholy, about why we voluntarily leave things behind - like the buildings, and then the cruelty of things involuntarily left behind - like beauty through the passage of time.
One thing that stands out, regardless of the stage of deterioration in his images, or his chosen surface, are the eyes. Rone paints these with a little more detail than other parts, drawing viewers into that particular area of the face, sort of like a talisman where the rest of the ghostly faces emanate from. They are his painting’s life-force, the point around which all else is built.
In one of his latest exhibitions, the artist took over an abandoned house, characterising different rooms by various different portraits, connecting the physical space with the emotional and spiritual resonance of the faces. In many ways, this was the culmination of many of his ideas.
Ultimately, the psychological states of people can be fragile and is another type of beauty that can become blunted over time. Rone captures this - the holistic idea of the beauty - and interrogates its meaning through what he paints, how he paints and where he paints it, inviting us to think about how the subject relates to our lives.
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