Rodney Mercer was born in St. John’s in 1971 and raised in Dildo, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador. He moved to Corner Brook, NL in 1995 to study visual art at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University and since then, he has been a fixture in the community and is considered a local treasure. Mercer moved to London, Ontario in the summer of 2020. Mercer’s practice has ventured into visual languages that include hard edge abstraction and materials such as seal skin to create works in defense (and celebration) of his culture, but he is best known for his realist, narrative, figurative paintings and prints that are often allegorical.
Executed with the classical precision of the Old Masters, Mercer’s paintings possess the same haunting resonance that can be identified in the work of Alex Colville or Christopher Pratt. Mercer draws heavily on Baroque traditions such as chiaroscuro (intense light and dark), rich colour, drama, and tenebrism (dramatic illumination) to generate mood and tone. The contemporary subjects (modeled after photographs of friends and/or recognizable figures in his community) posed in interior spaces or black theatrical voids, act out narratives that transform ordinary things and people into evocative spaces of mystical contemplation.
Half Awake with the Succubus (reprise)
acrylic, allkyd and oil on birch panel