Randal Rupert: A Life

Blessed with images Randal Rupert’s expressive spirit was nourished by the natural splendor of his Pocono Mountains birthplace and the rich iconography of the Catholic Church. Born in 1949, he grew up the only child of an industrious and loving working class family imbued with the faith and promise of an ascendant America in the 1950s.

Pursuing his early interest in the arts, his too brief journey took him to Penn State University, New Hampshire’s MacDowell arts colony, the Fine Works Art Center in Provincetown near its resplendent seashore and finally to two decades of immersion in the vibrant art circles of New York City. In 1989, just as his profile was growing and his work was gaining wide recognition, he became an early victim of the AIDS epidemic that ravaged New York’s and the wider nation’s arts communities.

Randal Rupert Redux is the first exhibition in more than three decades to bring back to life the extremely diverse and prolific body of paintings, drawings and rich images that he produced during the 1970s and 1980s.

The curated presentation will highlight the artist’s interest in the “communication of idea” — the methods he developed for making both paintings and drawings “speak” to viewers. These featured his unique approaches to images and colors, his concept of the “formal” and “emotive” sides of images — what the artist termed the “dualities of images” bridged through his unique style of combining realistic treatments and abstracted compositions.

The exhibit will also demonstrate the prescience of Randal Rupert’s ideas about “Media”, “Information”, “Images”, “Imagination” and “Constructed Reality” from the 1970s and 1980s ” that resonate strongly wih the sensibilities of today’s digital age.

Exhibitions and shows Between 1974 and 1988 Randal participated in numerous group and solo shows and at major galleries and museums. His unique and colorful early work was featured regularly at discerning galleries. As his work gained prominence, it was included or featured in shows in New York and other art centers within and outside the United States. It was featured in major corporate collections and shown at the Museum of Modern Art in a mid-career museum survey. A highlight of his later work was a stunning one-man show of 3×8 foot India ink on paper panels based on Gustav Flaubert’s Legend of St. Julian the Hospitalier.

A diverse portfolio Randal Rupert’s work was remarkable for its abundance and the unusual range of media and formats he executed with notable mastery. His many dozens of major paintings included large single canvasses and a range of captivating diptychs and triptychs. He also produced nearly a thousand single sheet drawings that he considered to be as important as his paintings. Again, within this format are charcoal drawings, pastels, gouaches and oils ranging from arresting simple images to very complex works. He also created poetry and notebooks as significant elements of his work.

A planned 2021 gallery and online exhibit will include the full range of his paintings, drawings poetry and notebooks. It is fitting that in the later days of this pandemic that has once again laid waste to the nation’s arts and artists, we should restore for the public the stunning artifacts of one taken too soon by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.