Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Swamp Dogs: A Series on Metal


More than a year in the making, George Rodrigue’s Swamp Dogs combine print, photography and varnish on large sheets of metal, resulting in a unique perspective of the Louisiana landscape.

Beyond materials, however, the series originates with two stories.  Rodrigue, a Cajun artist for forty-five years, illustrates Louisiana lore including not only the loup-garou, but also, in this case, allusions to the feux follets, or swamp gas.

-click photos to enlarge-



“It comes from the earth and explodes at night into large balls of fire,” explains Rodrigue.  “The Cajuns thought it was something magical – a swamp mystery they couldn’t explain – when actually it was natural gas ignited by static electricity.”

The loup-garou legend, the origin of Rodrigue’s Blue Dog, talks of a crazy wolf-type animal living in the swamp.

“With Swamp Dogs, I combine these mysteries, the loup-garou and the feux follets.”

Before releasing the series last month, Rodrigue experimented for more than a year, both in paint and photography, ultimately combining the two mediums within his computer.

“In the minds of the Cajuns, the feux follets was magic, but real, just as the loup-garou was mythical, but true.  To inject reality, I started with my photographs of the Atchafalaya Basin and altered them, stretching shapes and changing colors.  The loup-garou is in the water, through the water, and part of the water.”


Using computer technology, Rodrigue combines his imagination with reality.  He painted several versions of the Blue Dog, scanned them into the computer, over-laying them onto his altered photographs.  He manipulated these computer collages, increasing saturation but reducing the colors to only five or six, lending varying levels of transparency.



“I blended the photographs and painted imagery onto metal surfaces, using archival ink on aluminum so that parts of the metal show through, such as the dog’s nose and areas of the swamp. They appear as raw metal, as does a two-inch border around the final artwork.”




Finally, Rodrigue focuses on scale, with an average size of 3x5 feet.

“The larger the scale, the more stretched the photograph.  The metal becomes more obvious, as does the color enhancement.”



At this time, Swamp Dogs includes six versions, each an edition of 10, all pictured within this post and on view at Rodrigue’s galleries.  The computer screen does them little justice ……an irony, considering the artwork’s digital origins.  I encourage you to view these exquisite, unique works in person.

Wendy

-read about the first annual George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts Digital Art Contest here

-new for Gambit Weekly, in honor of Louisiana’s Bicentennial, I hope you enjoy the following essays:

The Creole Gourmet Society,” featuring George Rodrigue’s paintings of early 20th century dinner clubs, and Cora’s Restaurant,” a look back at CODOFIL and our French heritage, including Rodrigue’s classic painting He-bert, Yes – A Bear, No




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10 comments:

  1. I love the Swamp dogs....

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  2. George is my VERY favorite artist, period. There isn't a single thing that he has done that I don't like. For me, he was my art world game changer and what moved me beyond Audubon and his birds. When I studied at the High Museum of Art for their highly competitive art docent program, we were asked to choose our favorite artist and write about him or her and then do a presentation. Typically, there were those who chose Georgia O'Keefe (who I like), Andy Warhol, Thomas Kinkade, and even, believe it or not, Bob Mackie who is considered a textile artist in costuming. I chose George Rodrigue. I'll never forget when everyone and their mind connected to the Absolut Ads. But they were still naive and incomplete in their education of George Rodrigue and I was ONLY too happy to teach them. By the way - I got the ONLY A in the class!! Thanks George because your art TRULY captures the culture of my native state and makes my soul sing and smile EACH and EVERY time I see your various works. NOTHING makes me happier than when I get a notecard with a Blue Dog on it. That's SUCH a HUGE lagniappe to me!!xoxo Lisa

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    1. Thank you for sharing your passion for Rodrigue's art, Lisa. I can't tell you how much we appreciate your passing it along through your presentation in Atlanta as well. I enjoy your comments here and on facebook. Thank you again - and best of luck to you in your own art interests and endeavors - Wendy

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  3. These are just amazing and I can not wait to see the one our friend bought hanging on his wall! He tried to explain the transparency of the dogs to us at the dinner table. I now understand, but I can only imagine in person!

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  4. This is wonderful. Thanks for sharing this I love this stuff.

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  5. My wife and I have just purchased a print from the Swamp Dog series and we couldn't be more pleased. The print pictured with Mr. Rodrigue above, is the version we decided to buy. After buying my first pre-Blue Dog prints in 1977, we've collected many Rodrigue's since and this is the crown jewel of our collection.

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    1. Hi Anon- Thank you so much for your purchase and for sharing your enthusiasm for this beautiful artwork! As you know, the works on metal, such as the Swamp Dogs, do not show up well on-line or in photographs, but they are stunning in person. I will be sure that George sees your kind message. He will be as pleased as I am that you and your wife are enjoying this magnificent piece!

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  6. I have always been fascinated by "The Blue Dog's" story and it was told to each and every one of my three daughters which is now being spread among my 11 grandchildren....Thank You!

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  7. Thank you for writing in--- And thank you for sharing, Patricia!

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