Landing of the Rodrigue Brothers
2009 by George Rodrigue
Oil on canvas
Price upon request
Location: Rodrigue Studio New Orleans, in conjunction with the special exhibition Rodrigue’s Heartland: Under the Oaks and Out of the Swamp opening October 14th. Learn more
After more than forty years and hundreds of paintings, it is the dog-in-a-landscape that continues to stand out as George Rodrigue’s most popular subject. While the early Blue Dog paintings actually depict the legendary loup-garou in a landscape, by the early 1990s the paintings have clearly transformed into the Blue Dog.
Following a series of health problems in the late 1980s brought on by the chemicals in the oil paints and spray varnish, Rodrigue was advised by his doctors that he must abandon the medium. The only answer was to switch to acrylic paint, a fast-drying water-based paint. The process was a complete change for him, and not an easy one. Coincidentally, it was about this time that Rodrigue began in earnest the Blue Dog Series. The hard-edge of the Blue Dog actually lent itself very well to the acrylic paints. The colors are brighter and more intense than oils.
By the late 1990s Rodrigue was comfortable with acrylics, but his complaint was the rendering of the human figure and landscapes. Without the ability to blend the colors, he avoided these subjects as a painting’s pure focus for a decade. Then in 2002 he heard of a new paint, a water-based oil, with no turpentine and no fumes. For the first time since his necessary switch to acrylics, he revisited these classical subjects with these water-based oils. The result is rich and full of depth, a quality more difficult to achieve in the fast drying acrylics. Landing of the Rodrigue Brothers is a master work and a result of Rodrigue’s joyful return to the subject and paints that he loved.
The title refers to the story of Rodrigue’s ancestors, who walked from Canada to southwest Louisiana in 1755, following their banishment from Nova Scotia by the British. Known as Le Grand Dérangement, families were torn apart and struggled to find their identity and their place, finally reaching a new home, the “Land of the Oaks.”
“I grew up feeling a strong relationship to the old things, to the old culture, and I got a stronger feeling when I went to Los Angeles to school. I really started to understand how different I was and how different my Louisiana was. Those people would ask about the very dark trees, the very dark and mysterious swamps — and I hadn’t seen these when I was living there. Only when I came back could I see what they were talking about. At that time I resolved to produce something that reflected the Cajun culture, to translate into paintings the history of my people.” -G.R.