b. Sagamihara, Japan 1956
Humanism plays a paramount role in the expressive artwork of Renée Rey. She investigates the human condition through social and political issues in a global ecosystem. In her paintings and mixed media, Rey explores depth, dimension and dichotomies as she plays with perception and perspective, juxtaposes organic and geometric forms, and layers multiple meaning through the media. Interpreting traditional landscapes into otherworldly environments, she intuitively fuses abstraction and realism and surrealism and expressionism, utilizing vivid color, gestural mark-making and sweeping brushstrokes of thin and thick paint allowing for the beauty of unbridled accident.
In her current studio practice, Rey examines the connection between nature and human nature, cultural diversity and biodiversity, and spirituality and sustainability. Rey searches for unexpected associations and commonalities in an increasingly complex world. Symbolic connections emerge between identity, diversity and equality and the environment, science, politics, religion, mythology and memories. She builds an iconography from the natural and man-made worlds, the urban and rural landscape, and letters and numbers from the periodic table and verses from religious text including the Bible and Qur'an.
Rey was born in Sagamihara, Japan to a French-born artistic mother and an American-born optometrist father. Her generational history and multi-cultural background includes Christian Armenian refugee relatives and Jewish diaspora ancestry, which explains the immersion in diverse cultures, religions and ideologies. As a youth during the tumultuous 1960-70’s, changing social and political views shaped her. Hailing from upstate New York, New Hampshire, and New York City, and currently living in southwest Florida, her artwork has been influenced by urban, rural and open water surroundings.
Before Rey started her artistic career she studied interior design, Judaic Studies, history, philosophy and business. Living in Israel for a year, a month in Morocco, and travels to Europe and in the United States have informed her artwork and contributed to its trans disciplinary nature. Undergraduate classes in painting, drawing, 3-D design, experimental sound design, and performance art, and graduate courses in computer art, hypermedia, and film and studying with Dennis Byng, Phoebe Adams, David Fox, Seth Cluett, Patricia Search, and Igor Vamos made a visual and sensory mark on her work. Also influencing her art practice have been artists including Lucien Freud, Salvador Dali, Elsie Driggs, Joan Mitchell, Jennifer Bartlett and Anselm Kiefer.
In 2016, a Colorado artist residency proved to be transformative. As a painter, this month-long pivotal experience that focused on environmental sustainability, informed her practice and direction significantly. The subject matter of her work became grounded in the ecosystem, images became more complex and the canvases grew much larger in scale.
Art curators and gallery professionals nationally and internationally have taken notice. In March 2017, she was awarded Best in Show in Art Encounters National Competition 2017, a national juried exhibit, Frederick O. Watson Gallery, von Liebig Art Center, Naples, FL, by Jurors Jade Dellinger, Director, Bob Rauschenberg Gallery, Fort Myers, FL, Alejo Benedetti, Curatorial Assistant, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, and Mallory O’Connor, Professor of Art History, Emerita, Santa Fe College, Gainesville, FL. Her paintings have been selected for exhibit at the Farmington Museum, New Mexico by Dr. Julie Sasse, Chief Curator, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Curator of Latin American Art at the Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ for a national juried exhibit and Florida Contemporary 2015 Exhibition, Baker Museum, Artis-Naples, Naples, FL, and by Gisela Carbonell, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of Special Collections, at the Artis-Naples, Baker Museum, Naples, FL. Rey's paintings have been in exhibitions curated by Erin Wright, Curator at Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, Zoe Larkins, Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO, Susan Welsh, Executive Director, Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon, GA, Jennifer Cutshall, Director, Verum Ultimum Gallery, Portland, OR and Chitima Nok Kerdpirak in South Korea, Holland, Thailand and England. Rey has taught drawing, painting and creative thinking to adults and children at various locations in SW Florida.