13 July 2011

The Art of RS Connett

Creatures of a Luminescent Ocean
RS Connett creates art which is exquisite, vital, intriguing – yet enough of my adjectives, – you can supply your own, after all. Yet descriptives aside, Connett’s remarkable art is the result of what might be called a life less ordinary.  Prepare for your eyes to involuntarily widen.

Underworld IV
Connett was born in 1951 in San Francisco. Seeing his work and knowing the place and the era in to which he was born, you might be forgiven for nodding knowingly.  That would make him a young adult in the seventies. Uhuh. Yet there is more of a nod to European styles and traditions than perhaps meets the eye.  Anyone spot a little Haeckl or even a dash of Bosch perhaps?

Underworld I
Many come to their raison d’être later in life than others – some would say they have never found their niche at all.  Connett did not start painting until his late twenties and even then it was a hobby for the next twenty years.  He did not make painting his career until his fifties – so if you are reading this and you feel that you do not do what you were born to do – take heart.

Machine Gun Face
Underworld II
Connett’s vision is not a comfortable one.  His work challenges in a way which compels and poses questions, the answers to which are not necessarily immediately forthcoming.  And why should they be?  Chocolate box covers do that – imagine the treats within the box had they these on the cover.

Like many artists, Connett did not do very well in school – a traditional curriculum was not suited to him – and he found himself getting in to trouble and sometimes disheartened and miserable.  Drawing alleviated this frame of mind and the relationship between the art and the artist began.

Microbia III
The inner city school system proved an unmitigated disaster and the teenage Connett experimented with drugs which led to a period of time in hospital.  Adversity, however, went hand in hand with progress as an artist.  The act of creation was the sole experience which led to a state which could be described as happy.

Alternative Fuel Source I
Blue Microbia
The lowest point came in 1995 when Connett’s house burned to the ground.  As well as many of his own pieces his extensive collection of art, accumulated over decades, was gone in minutes. Connett was left with nothing.  There followed ten years of unrestrained drug use and zero art.

Pisces Mechanica III
Then, finally, the painted slowly recommenced.  Realising that one is defenceless against time and that our lives are ones of brevity, Connett focused the full power of his vigor on his art.  Now a full time artist he dedicates each day to the production of work which will leave a footprint of his life behind him.

This, I promise you, is not my shot at writing a précis for a movie – though don’t you think that Connett’s life would make an interesting 90 minutes on the big screen? Johnny Deppy would probably kill for the role - or maim at the very least.

Bio-Machine Form II
When I first came across Connett’s work I have to say that I had a moment where my jaw slackened because they really did have an immediacy and relevance to me that a deal of art lacks.  The use of color and detail - and the subject matter (particularly the fauna) struck me at once. If art could say hello, then that is the point at which Connett's art had me.

Red Microbia
As well as being very modern what struck me was the innate history in these pictures – they belong very much in the 21st Century but there is a dash of the Victorian here and a nod to the medieval there which combine to make something which is vital and meaningful right here and now but knows absolutely where it is coming from. I’m not sure of their exact meaning but I am not particularly concerned with that – it is more to do with how this art makes me feel than anything else. And it leaves me awestruck.

Kuriositas would like to thank RS Connett for his very kind permission to reproduce the art works above.  Each links to his website which has many more examples of his work, as well as his thoughts and feelings about them.  You also have the opportunity there to commission this significant artist or to purchase prints of his existing works.