Artist puts a political spin on religious painting

Diane Crocker
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Rodney Mercer’s painting titled ‘Painted With the Same Brush’ is on display at JL Gallery on Broadway.

Rodney Mercer is not flying his political colours in his latest work, but he says it is a reflection of the times.

In a painting titled “Painted With the Same Brush,” the local artist depicts former premiers, Kathy Dunderdale and Danny Williams, and premier designate Frank Coleman as the holy family in homage to Raphael’s “Madonna With the Beardless Joseph.”

Dunderdale in the Madonna role holds Williams, as the infant Christ figure, with Coleman, as the beardless Joseph, alongside.

“In genre painting the Christ figure is often seen as part of the Trinity, past, present and future,” said Mercer. “The narrative in the painting I think is something most viewers are going to get. We would hope that we live in what is called a democracy. Where our leaders are chosen ... and our leaders share the majority of our opinion.”

But Mercer said that he and others don’t think that’s actually the case now.

“Some people feel like even though some people aren’t in power they kind of are,” he said.

He said he’s heard of a discontent with the way things are happening.

“There are people who have been long-time supporters of their party who are not happy campers. They’re just not.”

Mercer said when people see the painting the thing he hears the most is: “I hit the nail right on the head.”

Speaking out publicly is not something the quiet artist normally does.

“I speak in pictures and I think in pictures. There’s a lot of artworks in the past that I have thought about doing that I didn’t do and I always regretted it. So when I get a work and I think it’s strong, as long as there’s content there, you know. You can have a picture or anything or a sculpture or whatever, you have your form, but you have to have content there as well as a reflection of the time and the people.”

This work, which took him about two weeks to complete, follows another politically inspired work, a seal skin portrait of Ellen DeGeneres.

“Painted With the Same Brush” is currently on display at Mercer’s studio at JL Gallery on Broadway, but it will soon be making its way to Rocky Harbour where it will be part of an exhibition of his work at Urve Manuel’s Glass Gallery and Studio.

Organizations: JL Gallery on Broadway

Geographic location: Rocky Harbour

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Recent comments

  • Dr.Patrick Monaghan
    May 27, 2014 - 19:38

    The recent work by Mr.Mercer is a succinct and severe commentary on the massive level of hubris that the P.C. party and the Williams brothers are guilty of.Hogarth would surely crack a smile at the painting and admire the boldness of the image. I myself am in possession of 17 pieces of Mr.Mercer's work which hang proudly on my walls here in London,Ontario.They tell a broad story of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and those Londoners who have seen this body of work are clearly impressed by the calibre.This is in sharp contrast to the imperceptible(perhaps even less) support that the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council(Visual) has given to Mr.Mercer.My own speculation is that Mr.Mercer's work simply does not fit the Council's formulaic notion of fine art and he does not rate as part of the Council's in-set. My advice to Mr.Mercer is to pack up his easel and depart his home Province. Dr.Patrick Monaghan

  • Angela Baker
    May 25, 2014 - 09:32

    Rodney Mercer is a serious & talented independent artist with great ideas and skill. I have been watching his development with keen interest and have great faith in him. He is an outsider artist holding his own outside the established "art world."

  • Henry
    May 24, 2014 - 08:24

    Great painting Rodney. I totally get it.