Jeff Bailey Gallery is pleased to present Jon Rappleye, Forgotten Planet, an exhibition of new drawings and sculpture.
Jon Rappleye’s drawings present the viewer with a variety of creatures inhabiting very unnatural terrains. Chalk white landscapes are populated by almost barren trees. Animals, birds and sea creatures are grouped together densely, as water rises or rushes by. Volcanoes erupt and snowcapped mountains are framed by multicolored skies.
The familiarity of certain species is called into question. In Forgotten Planet, a crane has antlers and a giant frog has grown fur, legs and a tail. They are surrounded by a baby octopus and a human skull. A cataclysmic event has occurred, but plant and animal life seem to survive, although in very different ways.
A buck and fawn are featured in Serene in Spring’s Treacherous Cradle. The deer, one of the most reviled animals in the suburban landscape, is still striking for its beauty and bearing. Its exploding population is perhaps one reason it is so often depicted in contemporary art. Here, Rappleye presents them as stoic and calm. Like the owls featured in all of his drawings, the deer serve to remind us of the continuity of nature, in spite of constant changes in the environment.
Each creature is painstakingly rendered in acrylic. Even in black and white, their realism is dramatic and heightened by the fantastic color of the skies. Rappleye cites the work of John James Audubon as an influence, and the landscapes of Albrecht Altdorfer and Salvador Dalí. It is this combination of reality and fantasy, and his concern for the environment that makes Rappleye’s work unique.
This is Rappleye’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. He has had other solo exhibitions at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Clough Hanson Gallery, Rhodes College, Memphis; the Salina Art Center, Salina, Kansas; the Jersey City Museum, New Jersey and Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles. His work is featured in the collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas; The Progressive Corporation, Ohio; West Collection, Pennsylvania and Art in Embassies. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and has been an artist in residence at the MacDowell Colony, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, among other venues. He received his MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He lives and works in Jersey City, New Jersey.