Honoring the human condition
This story was featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
A woman poses with a bird’s nest perched in her tangled hair. In another painting, a female figure stands between two trees with arms outstretched and eyes looking down at a kite. In a third painting, titled MESSENGER, a young woman is portrayed with a faint tear dropping down her cheek. Her face is timeless—she could be of the Renaissance era or walking the earth today. And like many of Osiris Rain’s figurative works, the painting evokes a subtle sense of mystery, beauty, and narrative. What has happened? Why is the woman crying? Are they tears of joy or sorrow?
Over the past several years, Rain’s figurative works have been juried into a number of impressive shows. Most recently MESSENGER was featured in the annual Salon International show at Greenhouse Fine Art in San Antonio, and another Rain portrait was named a finalist in the Portrait Society of America’s prestigious annual competition. The North Carolina-based artist began studying painting in elementary school with a private tutor. He continued to paint through high school before dropping out during his junior year and enrolling in classes at the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. Two years later, in 2005, he was one of 13 painters selected from a field of more than 500 applicants to apprentice with legendary Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum. Rain says the most significant lesson he learned from working with Nerdrum is “the importance of empathy in painting.”
Today Rain carries this lesson forward in his current work, always trying to evoke the struggles and contradictions of the human experience. “I believe empathy is the reason I am drawn to figurative work over any other,” Rain says. “I have a hard time finding it in most of the contemporary art being made today, so I feel I have to make my own affirmations for the dignity of the human experience. I am trying to convey a sense of human dignity and respect for the natural world. My paintings are calls for change, and an attempt to pull a pearl of hope out of the dystopia of our modern age.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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