Renée Rey b. 1956, Sagamihara, Japan
Painting gives Rey carte blanche to express the depth of multi-layered 21st century social and political narratives that have personal meaning to her. "I am not good at small talk, and would rather confront challenging issues," Rey admits.
Grounded in a multi-cultural Jewish/Christian/French/Armenian background, and birthplace in Japan, she explores trans-disciplinary subjects making artwork relevant for today by intersecting current themes of equality, diversity, identity, environmental sustainability, cultural connection, science, economics, and the human condition in an imagined ecosystem. Her examination into cultural connection has opened the door to a new creative investigation into the interdependence of current social mores and history and tradition.
In her studio practice Rey allows intuition to guide her expressive painting, a fusion of contemporary expressionist and surrealist imagery, that unfolds over time. Sometimes she develops smaller studies that inform the larger pieces. Rey challenges traditional expressions of landscape, cityscape, and the written word, creating innovative and spiritually charged visual iconography. She emphasizes the hand-made through freely composing gestural mark-making, spreading tactile paint, and abstracting imagery and language utilizing brushes, charcoal pencils, and twigs as tools. Playing with scale, perspective, depth, and perception, her imagery recedes and advances blurring reality and fantasy. In the process, the Artist creates a world in which viewers can connect and dialog.
It was an unusual mingling of love for nature and tradition, 50's interior design, 60's psychedelic graphics, traditional Japanese art, and a French fashion designer mother and Doctor of Optometry father that influenced her early artistic talents growing up in upstate New York. As an interior design student at Parsons School of Design in New York City in the early 1980's, she launched her creative career. John F. Kennedy, Golda Meir and the the politics and social climate of the late 60's and 70's contributed to her philosophy. Having lived and studied Jewish history, language, and literature in Jerusalem, Israel for one year, visiting two other times, and experiencing Morocco for almost a month during Ramadan, gave her rich and colorful experiences and visual vocabulary of people, landscape, and architecture that has continued to inspire her artwork. Her social advocacy began in the 1990’s including volunteering for democratic political campaigns and writing articles about harmful pesticides and Anti-Semitism on college campuses. In her past artwork, Rey has explored the human condition and political and social issues including homelessness, peace process in Israel, women's empowerment, breast cancer awareness, and the environment. Her current work harkens back to her previous work as she appropriates images and ideas in a new way.
Educated in Albany and New York, New York, Rey was influenced by New York painters Larry Rivers and Mark Rothko, British artists Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Frank Auerbach, Surrealist Salvador Dali, and traditional Eastern and Asian Art. Deeply moved by Lucian Freud paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on opening day, December 1993, Rey began pushing the properties of oil paint in her own work to evoke mood, question norms, and communicate message.
Rey was awarded Best in Show in Art Encounters National Competition 2017, a national juried exhibit, Frederick O. Watson Gallery, von Liebig Art Center, Naples, FL, March 2017, by Jurors Jade Dellinger, Director, Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, Fort Myers, FL, Alejo Benedetti, Curatorial Assistant, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, and Mallory O’Connor, Professor of Art History, Emerita, Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL. Rey's painting, 11 Na and Sustaining Khala'ifa, is currently at the Farmington Museum, New Mexico selected by Dr. Julie Sasse, Chief Curator, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Curator of Latin American Art at the Tucson Museum of Art, Tuscon, AZ for a national juried exhibit. Zoe Larkins, Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO selected one of her paintings for a national juried exhibit in Fort Collins, CO in May 2017. Her artwork was included in Florida Contemporary 2015 Exhibition, Baker Museum, Artis-Naples, Naples, FL, selected by Gisela Carbonell, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Special Collections, Artis-Naples, Baker Museum, Naples, FL. The Artist has also been included in exhibits by Erin Wright, Curator at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, Rebecca Wilson, Chief Curator and VP, Art Advisory, Saatchi Art, and Susan Welsh, Executive Director, Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, GA. During the month of August, 2016, she was invited to attend Sun Peak Center for Art and Sustainability, Colorado Springs, CO, overlooking the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Her work has been exhibited nationally, is in private collections internationally, and has been written about in various publications in New York and Florida.
Rey has studied fine art, design, experimental sound design, and performance on the undergraduate level and digital art and film and video on the graduate level. She holds undergraduate degrees in Interior Design from Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, and Jewish Studies, University at Albany, Albany, NY, a Masters in Jewish Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York, NY, and an MBA in Business Management, Concentration in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. She has taught drawing, painting, creative thinking, Jewish Studies, and Interior Design at various locations in New York and Florida.