| exhibitions

The Paintings of Julie Rauer
By Bruce Gemmell


“Nothing appeared to me colder than reason, until I had seen it play around the brow of a young woman like the lamp of a sanctuary in the hands of a laughing little child.”

Portrait of a Lady
from The Double Garden
Maurice Maeterlinck

When I talk these days to my friends in the sciences, one of the topics that comes up frequently is the apparent loss of value of drawing in the arts; when I mention this to friends in the arts, I find more than a few are surprised to find that scientists not only have an interest in drawing, but often a proficiency that is necessitated by their work as scientists.

Not only did the naturalist need to draw to record his findings before he had the convenience of the photograph, but then, as now, science depends on its own hand and eye - even at microscopic proportions - to record the things in its universe. I find often in these scientific drawings a candor not often found elsewhere. This candor is also present for me in the paintings of Julie Rauer. Not just the naturalist, but the chemist, the physicist, the cosmologist—and even Professor Freud, father of psychoanalysis—knew that to express one’s findings, drawing is not only essential, but leaves in the drawing little room for anything else other than the most expedient expression of the subject matter. Leonardo understood this, I believe, his exquisite hand becoming scientific shorthand for the most fertile of imaginations. When I look at the paintings of Julie Rauer, I see an identical concern, which comes to her not only from her own love of science and the natural world, but also from the love she had for the exotic oriental objects she adored in her youth. This temperament was nurtured more by her childhood training in Calligraphy and Chinese Cuisine, than by her studies in art school.

Occasionally in history there has been a need to announce to the audience that the artifacts created by a particular vocation have changed, to account for the possibilities and opportunities afforded by the problems and circumstances specific to the day. The work of Julie Rauer announces such an event. A parallel may be drawn to the example of the Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega Y Gasset, author of The Revolt of the Masses, who placed at the beginning of one of his first publications (and maybe his first major publication) Meditations on Quixote, the vocative “To the Reader”, in which he initiates his audience into the perceptual corrections necessary to grasp the new conceptual artifact that is about to be revealed to them. I compare artist and author not just because of similarities - such as the primacy of literary operations to their work, or the metaphysical obsessiveness of that work – but also because it is the use of the metaphor that is at the center of both of these artists’ work.

It appears to me that as the western art world splintered from its more central academic preoccupations, spurred on by the conceptual possibilities afforded it by the modernizing of philosophy and science, it increasingly strayed from the standards of the day. I apologize for such a simplistic formulation, but if there is a weakness that I see today that needs attention, it is that many of today’s painters do not appear to possess the necessary technical training to make valuable inventions. This leads me to wonder which is cause and which is effect: the inability to maintain traditions in painting, or the lack of technical proficiency which is robbing painters of the ability to support their conceptual aspirations?

Julie Rauer is cognizant of this situation; she is acutely aware of the necessity of expressing her conceptual aims—the gravity of which is clearly demonstrated in her paintings — and in this she is as directed as the physicist to clarity. Each carefully crafted piece is a scientifically descriptive drawing of the unconscious ontological motive of her subject expressed through the operation of the metaphor; beyond the sensuality of the physicality and its details, or painterly embellishments, beyond the things, to the things for what they are in themselves—the entities, if you will, singularly and in construction, in her imagination, “the laughing little child”.

However, since Parmenides, to unlock the riddle of the thing for itself has been no easy matter, and Julie has neither the pretense nor arrogance to pronounce her knowledge or study of this matter to be a solution to this timeless challenge; but she is perspicacious enough to enjoy the perspectives of being, to be found (just as she recalls finding them in childhood in the not so alien shapes of her adventures with scholar’s rocks, wood block prints and hanging scrolls) and to be constructed to create parables, tales, and fables. It is easy to see only beautiful painting and masterful technique, but as Julie herself says: beauty has teeth. As you look deeper, you see that as for the scientist, the content of the subject matter bares those teeth to reveal that what truly matters is far more valuable.

Virtuosity is not to distract: every stroke and mark, every hue and stain, is intentional and necessary to get at the precise ontological composite embedded within. These are Julie’s discoveries from her adventures, expressed with a disarming grace and simplicity—an innocence, born not of a sheltered reality but of acute experience.



Back to Chimera, Paintings and Drawings by Julie Rauer | exhibitions