"I am attracted to things that don’t have a high beauty value in themselves because it is more of an opportunity to find the beauty of the light or of their various relative configurations. Those sorts of things give me work to do rather than painting something that is already beautiful."

Jude Rae in interview with Maria Stoljar during Jude Rae: 424 - 428, at The Commercial, Sydney 2020


Jude Rae’s observational painting practice is analytic of objects, space and light. Her work is as much concerned with the generative energy around things and the relationships adhering between them as the things themselves. Sensation is her subject. Rae works within the genres of still life and large-scale interiors and the conceptual and perceptual propositions they offer as within a laboratory, subtly manipulating the variables of composition and the desires of media - oil paint on textured linen, charcoal, watercolour and etchings on paper – for palpable effects. She chooses objects emptied of sentimentality and familiarity and places them under “inquisitorial” (Rae) light. Economies of composition are narrowed to formal elements, sensitising and slowing the activity of looking via nuanced constructions and interpretations of light and affecting tonal relationships. These things operate somewhat differently in the large still lifes where there is often a more luxurious articulation of objects and an expansion of spatial relationships compared with the more brutal expression (abstract reduction) and spatial compression in the smaller ones. Colour comes with emotional impact via selection of objects and backgrounds conveyed in pigment.
Rae’s practice conflates the traditions of Netherlandish 17th Century painting, early French modernists’ ventures in subjective (imaginative) vision with late 20th Century philosophies of abstraction and speed. Her active studio practice with visual and corporeal material is motivated by a definite theoretical frame that is increasingly refined and turned to her own further research. The passive psychology and active energetic fields of her inanimate compositions permit the viewer to cross the threshold - overtly depicted - of pictorial space into an experiential matrix that is contemplative and unselfconscious. Regardless, the painting as a material object, its proof of life, is always evident in its abstractions, in paint’s attenuation across the slub of woven linen and the pout of white primer and Burnt Sienna imprimatura appearing around the wrapped volume of the painting’s support.
For four decades, Jude Rae (b. 1956, Sydney; l. Sydney) has presented regular solo exhibitions in Australia and New Zealand, her movement between the two countries has resulted in firmly-rooted artistic citizenship of both with her professional career equally divided between Auckland, Canberra, Christchurch and Sydney. Rae undertook higher education studies in Sydney (undergraduate) and Christchurch (post-graduate) including both studio-based and theoretical/historical degrees. Influential on Rae’s formation as an artist was her father, David Rae (1923-2007), a realist painter whose work is held in the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In the early 1990s, Rae was a founding Director of the influential artist-run-initiative, South Island Arts Projects (now The Physics Room) in Christchurch and was actively involved in that organisation until she moved to Auckland in 1996. In the early 1980s, Rae was a founding Director of the Ultimo Project in Sydney which began as an artist housing project and still exists as artist studios. In the late 1980s Rae served on the Board of Artspace, Sydney.
In 2017, a large-scale survey exhibition of Rae’s work, Jude Rae: A Space of Measured Light, was presented by the Drill Hall Gallery at the Australian National University, Canberra, curated by Terence Maloon. An 83-page publication was produced to accompany the exhibition.
Rae has been the recipient of major painting prizes including the 2016 Bulgari Art Award at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Portia Geach Memorial Award 2008 and 2005.
Parallel to her painting practice that has focused primarily on still lifes and large scale interiors, Rae has produced a significant body of portraiture including official portraits for parliamentary, university and corporate collections in Australia and New Zealand, recent subjects include the Honourable Linda Burney MP first Aboriginal woman elected to the Australian House of Representatives, Susan Kiefel Chief Justice of Australia, the Honourable Anna Bourke AO 28th Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives and Dame Sian Elias 12th Chief Justice of New Zealand and first female Chief Justice in the Supreme Court of New Zealand. In many instances, Rae has been the first female artist to be commissioned by the commissioning institutions. The Anna Bourke portrait (2015) is the first portrait of a female subject painted by a female artist in the Australian Parliamentary Collection.
Collections include:  ACT Legislative Assembly Art Collection, Canberra; Aigantighe Gallery, Timaru; Artbank; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists; Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Auckland; Australia Club, Sydney; Australian, National University Collection, Canberra; BHP Collection; Canberra Museum and Gallery, Canberra; Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Christchurch; Coopers and Lybrand, Auckland; Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Dunedin; Fletcher Trust Collection, Auckland; High Court of Australia, Canberra; James Wallace Arts Trust, Auckland; Jennifer B. Gibbs Trust, Auckland; Lion Nathan, Sydney; Monash; University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Museum of New Zealand/Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; National Bank of New Zealand; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Portrait Gallery, Canberra; Newcastle Art Gallery; Northern Club, Auckland; Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra; Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Melbourne; University of Auckland Art Collection, Auckland; University of Canterbury Art Collection, Christchurch; University of Melbourne Art Collection, Melbourne; University of Technology Art Collection, Sydney.


» View available works by Jude Rae