Between 2002 and 2003, George Rodrigue painted seventy swirling Hurricanes, most on round canvases, creating a series that, as he explained, “I have to paint until it’s out of my system.” Now, for the first time since his passing in 2013, a selection of George Rodrigue’s exceptional abstract series, Hurricanes, is available for sale, including his very first painting from the series…. Lili (2002), as part of the special 2018 exhibition, Rodrigue’s Swirling Vision: The Cosmos, Sun, and Hurricanes.
“I had forgotten what these hurricanes do. I just really felt…this energy and…all of what happened to us during these hurricanes. So, I decided that I’m going to paint hurricanes — I’m going to paint the feeling of a hurricane. I’m going to paint all the emotion…and do it in an abstract way…like, things are torn up and it’s a little like a radar screen. It’s a little like things getting beat up. And, it’s very colorful.” – George Rodrigue (read more below)
It was in 2002 that Rodrigue witnessed Hurricane Lili in Lafayette, Louisiana. He watched as a colossal 150-year old oak tree fell in his front yard. Two weeks later, Isidore tore through the same area, also visible during the day. Viewing firsthand the energy and power of these storms affected Rodrigue in a way he had never experienced.
Suddenly the swirl, a signature motif that had appeared throughout his work, took on a new significance, telling a story of its own. The spiraling vortex that once enlivened his Landscapes and Blue Dog paintings grew to encompass the entire canvas as its sole subject. Rodrigue’s Hurricanes, however, are not a complete departure from his signature imagery. Within them exists traces of what came before– a river, an oak tree, the distinct eyes of a dog— in the same way life continues, yet changed, following an actual storm.
Rodrigue’s Hurricanes pre-date Hurricane Katrina, and many people, in hindsight, have seen the series as a prophecy. Yet when Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, Rodrigue did not paint the storm. He instead turned his energy to relief efforts, establishing Blue Dog Relief (now the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts), raising millions of dollars for humanitarian and arts-related causes through sales of now-famous prints such as We Will Rise Again and We Are Marching Again. Years later, when he revisited a similar Hurricanes style of colorful, swirling designs on round canvases, he called the series Pop Candy, dropping the hurricane reference completely.
*price and availability subject to change without notice