When Rob Rey received an invitation to participate in an art exhibition featuring “out-of-the-ordinary” still-life paintings, he came up with the idea not just for one painting but an entire series of oils that he now calls his Bioluminescence series. In these works, he portrays small glowing animals—mice, birds, and other creatures that are similar in size to a lamp bulb—amid dimmed light sources. “Conceptually, I think of it as a celebration of life,” says the Denver artist. “We have all these lights around us, but it’s the living things that really illuminate the world. As the series has gone on, I’ve tried to include different light sources that represent different cultures.”
In his winning entry, Rey portrays sphere-shaped paper lanterns with vibrant turquoise hues and playful, palpable textures. “I’m always trying to apply my brush strokes in a way that simplifies the subject in interesting and beautiful ways,” he says. “I’ve always thought oils are a beautiful medium because of the smeary, expressive brushwork you can get. And I work wet-into-wet, which would be nearly impossible to do with other mediums.”
Rey started painting with oils while studying illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art in 2006. Today the artist continues to pursue his passion for illustration, but his interest in narrative imagery has also carried over to his work as a painter. “I’m using my illustration background to tell stories, whether they are vague stories like the Bioluminescence series or other complicated stories,” he says. “My subjects usually aren’t true to reality.” Find Rey’s work at Abend Gallery, Denver, CO.
This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
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