Selwyn Rodda’s paintings remind me of plasticine balls in plasticine colours, atop smooth, plasticine landscapes. They invite interpretation in the same way one makes sense of shapes when cloud gazing.
Selwyn’s sketches, like his paintings, are drawn with heavy lines and hold tension within the composition. Strong lines lead the eye in and warped spherical shapes keep us there. Towering clusters lean impossibly off-centre, yet gravity and cohesion are not questioned. The features in his landscapes are suggestive in shape, and numerous shadows show myriad moods.
Although his paintings diverge from the expected landscape, with flora and terrain that’s easily recognised as similar to our own experience, his work does contain many of the traditional landscape elements such as light-source and shadow; and foreground, middle and distance. The objects painted into Selwyn’s game board may be unfamiliar, but they take on an authentic value due to their conformity with the traditional elements, mentioned earlier, that are often taken for granted when viewing our own environment.
Selwyn’s work is also rich with emotion. His 3D blobs do not merely adorn his landscapes; they interact in a manner that reveals feelings, reflecting human interactions, postures and mood. Because his work is pared back to these basic elements, we are not distracted by specific people, places or time and we can examine the raw emotions. Because the characters in the setting are not recognisably human, we can consider the universality of the postures and emotions. Do we all share these traits? And how closely related are we, to the other creatures on our planet? Some may find Selwyn’s landscapes confronting or uncomfortable, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. His art engages the viewer and makes us think.
How Selwyn’s work relates to my arts practice
When introduced to Selwyn’s work I wondered again, about what constitutes a painting. I had been mulling over this conundrum for some time, as I had noticed most offices I visited had walls adorned with huge canvasses covered in paint applied in abstract arrangement. I refrained from using the word ‘design’, as oftentimes it appeared to be more of a happenchance than a planned execution. As discussed above, this does not apply to Selwyn’s work.
I am inspired to make some blobs on an alien landscape of my own creation, attempting to echo the skill Selwyn shows in executing fully rounded characters that portray real human emotions, while devoid of recognisable features.