If you’ve been to Camel Art Space, now Parallel Art Space, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Rob de Oude’s detailed, graphic and downright illusionary paintings. Having personally spent lots of time at both galleries, I’ve developed a healthy affection for the obsessive nature of de Oude’s paintings, an aspect of his work that always made me suspect that he has more than a passing relationship with OCD and / or control issues. Despite the overwhelming rigor of his dense line work, the paintings continue to have a liveliness, due to his unabashed love of color.
With that said, over the last four years de Oude has been ridiculously prolific, and every time I’ve stopped by Parallel or gone to his exhibitions, there is a little part of me that worries that I am going to grow bored with his unwavering love of lines. But then you find yourself alone at an opening in front of one of de Oude’s paintings, noticing that the red horizontal lines seem to be popping. The next thing you know, you’re polling strangers in your general proximity to ask if it’s just you or do the red horizontal lines pop more than the others? And then you find yourself thinking through the colors of the other horizontal lines and then the background colors and then the spacing of the lines and the layering of the paint. Needless to say, I find myself still very much enjoying his paintings.
At their best, they are more than formal abstractions of gimmicky optical illusions. Instead, this is a real-time education in optics that becomes both energizing and punishing as the lines, with a little concentration from the viewer, start to move and undulate. It sounds like a carnival trick, but his knack for colors that are both muted and pulsating makes the work endlessly engaging.