The longer the viewer takes to concentrate and “study” any form of fine art the greater the possibility they have to enjoy it, or decide why they don’t. The average viewing time is fifteen seconds. I am challenging that notion to allow submission to the emotional experience.
My work is an accomplished effort of juggling composition and improvisation. The construction of these two elements take shape in a semi-trance. After this absorption, three-quarters of the way through this process, the critical phase occurs when I must make the whole piece come together. Of course it’s not a “process” in the corporate sense of the word – it is everything that has stayed with me from being a student with Elaine de Kooning to thirty years of working and exhibiting in NYC.
I must use whatever facility comes to play during this circumspect analyses in an attempt to finish with a positive ending. This final personal satisfaction is achieved with a certain amount of luck along with my years of experience towards completion.
My approach to the current work relies on critical analysis and a reservoir of acquired techniques and subject matter. The new element to my work shown here is collage. A palette of appropriated images from vintage periodicals and posters. I use the cut line of the X-acto blade much like a pencil or paintbrush. Choosing the collage pieces, placing them, shaping; gluing and burnishing. This process is very intuitive while simultaneously reflecting on the compositional direction allowing for changes. I paint over the cut pieces with a variety of techniques. The stipple dry brush application of paint is based on a technique I have used previously in my work to suggest the painterly approach.
The titles are conceptually cryptic leaving the final response and analysis up to the viewer. “Competition for the largest” and “Butterfly” are examples of my earlier stylistic approach. They are graphic, with high contrast. “Christian Harley Riders in favor of Gay and Lesbian Marriage” might be transitional – busy but composed.
What I am striving for in “Surf City is the Place to be” is a combination of seamless blending of the figurative and abstract. “Rolanda and the Kitchen Sink in Hawaii” is dedicated to a good friend who immigrated to Hawaii. It expresses a more painterly tone with a sense of color, bright light and the thrill of being in a new place. “Butterfly” is an expression of life on over load with a geometric abstraction, and kinetic movement. Delicate creatures that can travel hundreds of miles every year to be where they need to be, and return every year to another place called home.BIOGRAPHY
Rande Barke remembers the sweet acrid smell of beer “factories” when riding in his father's truck toward downtown Milwaukee in the 1960’s. A prosaic industry set in a humble and sturdy landscape next to lake Michigan.
Barke, who spent the last 20 years in New York City, exhibiting his art, is now back in Milwaukee. The culture and urbanity of “The City” provided a context that fostered five single person shows and several reviews in Art Forum and Art in America, as well as awards including The National Endowment for the Arts Scholarship and the New York Foundations for the Arts Fellowship in drawing.
Before working full time as an artist in New York, Rande taught art for 6 years. First at the University of Southern Mississippi, then as an assistant professor in the Art department of Syracuse University. His formal education was at the University of Georgia with an MFA in drawing and painting. There, he worked for two years with Elaine de Kooning who enabled him to meet such masters of 1950’s American abstraction as Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. Willem de Kooning reminded Rande of his German speaking grandfather, Sam Barke, who left Europe to start a cedar post business in Gillett, Wisconsin in the 1930’s.
Rande left New York City in 2002, changed forever, after watching the Trade Center towers burn from his Greenpoint Brooklyn studio. He and wife moved to Westchester County setting up a studio in downtown Yonkers, 2 blocks from the Hudson River and the Palisades. The river and surrounding imagery was reflected in his abstract paintings and semi representational drawings.The great recession would take Rande and his wife to the midwest. Rande now lives and works in Milwaukee - the city he left at age 16.