Duncan Bullen, Academic Programme Leader, Fine Art, University of Brighton Faculty of Art
Tania's paintings, prints and drawings provide no easy answer to such a question, but they do speak of a continuing fascination that this particular genre holds for artists. For Tania, it is not an idealized picturesque or a pastoral view of landscape that interests her, nor is it that other great western idea of the beautiful and sublime, with its capacity to inspire awe, wonder or reverence, but rather it is what she refers to as a 'humanized countryside', that concerns her. It is the patterns and repetitions of tracks and paths that cut through a field, delineated for a transitory moment in time, something overlooked or forgotten that Tania is attracted to and wants to capture paint on canvas.
For any one who has ever picked up a pencil or paintbrush and tried to create a picture of the scene before their eyes, they immediately encounter the difficulty of transcribing or representing what they actually see. For what we call representational is no more or no less than an abstraction of the actuality. It may be better, therefore, in Tania's art, to speak of a re-presentation, rather than a representation. For this term seems to account for the ambiguity of vision, of being in the world and takes account of the flux and flow of a landscape in constant change and our bodies moving through it, rather than a fixed view point found in theories and practice of perspective. Tania's paintings attempt to convey some of this ambiguity between re-presentation and abstraction where, seeing is merged with memory and one place with another.
Looking at one of Tania's paintings one is also drawn to the surface, the glide and scumble of the application of paint that produce layer upon layer of glazes of muted colour. Stepping back, these thin washes of colour merge upon the eye giving depth and lightness to the overall composition. thinking and planing a painting in this way is for Tania a crucial part of the making process, and recalls her initial training in printmaking with its characteristics step-by-step methodologies and techniques.
Brian Curtin, Writer Contemporary Art, Flash Art and Frieze and other publications
Most immediately, the paintings suggest a modernist order of contained, repetitive and seemingly self-referential lines and markings. On consideration, however, we recognize this order as tempered by a sense of the organic, suggestions of space deeper than initially perceived and complex personal engagements with theoretical and lived understandings of feminine experience. Rutland brings different poles of perception into close proximity. Questions of abstraction, the referential and the representational move across her intricately worked surfaces.
The artist’s most recent source material is well-worn rags. She has spoken about her late mother’s work as a seamstress, the registration of the labourer’s being in the products of physical labour, and the fact of purportedly tedious repetition. These paintings build on her fundamental concern to translate aspects of her personal experience into an original visual language. At issue is an ambition to address a humanist understanding within the terms of that originality. Sometimes when looking at Rutland’s work we can sense a trace and touch of something more intimately real than the paint’s materiality. Other times we begin to decode the subtle symbolism and, yet other times, we recognize her paintings as operating on more complex and challenging levels.
Broadly influenced by the formalism of Robert Ryman, Prunella Clough’s capacity to distill essences and the rhythm and intimacy of James Hugonin, the autobiographical language of Louise Bourgeois is also pertinent. Rutland ultimately brings these influences forward to offer a great spin on recent developments in painting: she has no fear of pursuing traditional notions of beauty and she responds in an exceptionally significant manner to paint as a material as well as a medium.