Rupert Deese was born in Upland, California in 1952. He received his B.A. and M.F.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He resides in New York.
Deese’s new tondo-shaped paintings in plywood, painted in oil are disks with wave-like forms in varying pitch and intensity. They are all of a pale cloud-like blue, all ranging in size from 54 to 58 inches. They recall the experience of childhood of dropping a pebble in a calm pond and watching the radiating ripples.
Deese writes of his inspiration in creating this new series of paintings:
“The title of this series of paintings, Merced and Tuolumne Rivers, refers to the source of their shape: the headwaters of the Merced and Tuolumne Rivers in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Each circular disc encompasses about 2,700 square miles of landscape and indicates the first 50 miles of each river’s course.”
“The modeled surfaces of the paintings present, on a small scale, the surface structures of the mountainous watershed areas surrounding these two parallel rivers. Each composition restates proportionally the contours of the ranges, the intervals between the branch-like tributaries, and the angles of the valley walls in a radial tiling pattern made up of 254 arc-shaped plywood tiles.”
Deese’s discs and hexagons float on the wall in bas-relief, altering our perception of the rectilinear space surrounding them, while conjuring vast mountain ranges, rivers and vistas of nature at its purest and most meditative.