Ever since the dawn of painting, artists have been interested in the female form. Of course, some observers would qualify this statement to say male artists have been interested in the female form. But this is a mean-spirited characterisation. Why wouldn't artists – of either sex – be inspired by the aesthetics of 51 percent of humanity? By the sex that gave birth to every human being ever?
Endre Röder is squarely in this cohort. His work is certainly inspired by women. But it might be more accurate to assert that he is just as inspired by the creative choices of the painters-of-women who came before him. Specifically by Cezanne, Renoir, Gauguin, Balthus, Picasso, Modigliani and others.
All of these influences are evident in Endre's second show for the Catto. His first, during lockdown restrictions in 2021, was a step into the unknown for both artist and gallery. But it proved a great success. So now he is back with a larger group of works.
What a rich selection it is. The most immediately striking visual element is the way that Endre distorts perspective. The paintings are full of sharp angles and flattened planes. In a debt to cubist experimentation, Endre attempts to show multiple viewpoints at once. Check out Rosina and Antonia, for example. The woman on the left is in profile and face-on at the same time. In fact, she could almost be two women. Endre repeats this technique multiple times in the collection.
Then there's the 'exoticism'. Many of the portraits here reflect Endre's interest in non-Western subjects. In Plate of Pears, Return to Ys, Yellow Fan and many more, the artist mines this rich seam just as Picasso, Gauguin and others did before him. Pursuing this avenue also gives Endre the opportunity to introduce elements with rich possibilities for any artist: fruit, flowers, opulent head wear, jewellery.
Finally, we should mention the technique – the lovely 'fleshiness' of these paintings. Endre uses a lot of paint in order to make his women bold and monumental. A good example of this is Catherine, which recalls Gauguin and Renoir in its tactile epic quality.
Endre Röder will be 90 this year. Should we be surprised that he is producing work of this quality at such a mature age? Certainly not. Painting is a skill, and artists should improve as long as they stay curious. Endre has clearly done this ever since arriving in the UK from Malta in 1949. He studied art at Southsea, Portsmouth and the Sheffield College of Art, before working as a cartographical draughtsman, art administrator and teacher. In 1988 he took the plunge and became a full time painter.
35 years later, he is still finding new things to say, as this new collection amply demonstrates.
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