Interview with Terry Rodgers: I draw inspiration from what I see around me

Terry Rodgers is an internationally recognized artist who is renowned for his large-scale cinematic paintings which hold up a mirror to contemporary society. Exquisitely detailed and realistically rendered, Terry Rodger’s work captures the glamour and

hedonism of high society to captivating effect. In a marriage of contemporary and classic, Terry Rodgers has collaborated with luxury glassware specialist Lalique to craft a collection of crystal vases inspired by the iconic Bacchantes design. The Sirènes takes the classic motif of the female nude, reworking the figures to represent the modern woman. Sculpted in bas-relief, the nine sirens have been imbued with their own identity, each finished with different faces and hairstyles. We speak to the artist to discover where he sources his inspiration as well as uncovering the full story behind this beguiling collaboration.

Please provide a brief introduction to your work.

My work looks at the complexity of our world exploring the mediated suggestions that determine the language of our thoughts, and the discomfort and isolation endemic to our time.  I’m often compressing images of supposed ideals and ideal life with expressions that may suggest a level of uncertainty and searching.

What would you consider the highlight of your career thus far?

My proudest moment to date was when Thomas Olbricht opened me Collectors Room Berlin (an exhibition space devoted to showcasing international private collections) including not only one of my paintings from his collection, “The Sacrificial Penumbra,” but also using it as the face of the opening exhibition.

What or whom would you list as your key points of inspiration?

Inspiration is a funny idea.  I draw inspiration from what I see around me; how people are interacting spurs my versions of the world.  It’s the observation of our expressions and the varieties of our flesh, the subtleties of our gestures and the images that we absorb from our media-saturated world that focus my attention.

Some of the artists that I’ve admired are Velasquez, Toulouse-Lautrec, Neo Rauch, Sigmar Polke, and David Salle among hundreds of others.

What was the most rewarding and the most challenging aspect of designing the ‘Sirens’ collection for Lalique?

The most challenging expect when sculpting the Sirènes vase was investing the elegant and luxurious crystal with a sense of underlying intensity or tension.

Once these obstacles where overcome, seeing the vases in their final sparkling crystal was rather magical.  Another highlight was working with the amazing team that is Lalique — fine tuning the plaster version, casting the crystal and then the final carving and surfacing of the vases. The Lalique craftsmanship is quite wonderful. I greatly enjoyed the time I spent in the factory working with the plaster and the crystal carving experts.

What drew you to the Bacchantes vase and forming a collaboration with Lalique?

Taken from Greek and Roman mythology, the stories of the followers of Dionysus and Bacchus illustrate an interesting dichotomy in our experience — the well-behaved citizen verses the abandoned or raving revelers. Much of my work looks at similar dualities — public/private, inner/outer, cultural/emotional.  Rene Lalique took the idea of the bacchantes and rendered a sculpted version very much through the eyes of his time — an Art Deco version of grace and femininity.  I saw the opportunity of working in a similar vein, but seeing other possibilities through the eyes of our times.  I could focus on individuality, independence, realistically rendered bodies and a sense of complexity and maybe even uncertainty.  Like the original bacchanalian revelers, there might be a slight tension between the perfect, glossy crystal, on the one hand, and the shadows and inward-turning movements.

What is your favourite medium to work in as an artist and why?

I like working in all media.  It’s only a question of whether the piece works well or not.  Paint, clay, video, photography, graphics, ink, steel, bronze and crystal.  They’re all amazing.

Feature Editor

Dolce Vita Diamond, Editorial Team

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