Dig Baton Rouge

Heads Up

By Tara Bennett

 

Rodney Pike’s goal in his work is not to make fun of people but to make fun images. Viewers should have a laugh, but should not take it too seriously.

“It’s meant to be funny,” said Pike. “I’m not one to over analyze my art or any art for that matter. To be honest, I think in my case anyhow, that might hinder my process if you want to call it that. I’m not trying to make any specific statements with my work.”

Currently, a collection of Pike’s photo-manipulations called Distorted Reality are on display at the Healthcare Gallery.

“We were looking for something unique and an artist who had not been featured in the region,” said Rodneyna Hart, curator of the show. “When he came to our attention we approached him to see if he would be interested in a solo exhibition. His work is inventive and really fun.”

According to Hart, Pike shows his whimsical spirit in all his depictions, but some really exhibit his depth of talent such as “Tim Burton “One Man Show” where Pike integrated many elements of Burton’s career and life.

“We wanted to give a range of pop cultural characters from entertainment and politics,” said Hart. “When the opportunity presented itself we knew this would be a great show to feature as it is visually stimulating and segue beautifully info the BR Pop exhibition we will be showcasing at the end of the month.”

A native of Baton Rouge, Pike has always loved caricature art and grew up wanting to be an illustrator like Norman Rockwell. While he received no formal art training, his art teacher in middle school nurtured his potential.

“She’s the one who made me believe that I could make it somehow in the art world,” said Pike.

Pike notes Rockwell’s storytelling ability, and Sebastian Kruger’s caricature work of The Rolling Stones as having been a huge influence on his style. While Pike does not necessarily pursue any particular themes in his work, he tries to put his own spin on things.

“Obviously I like working with people though,” said Pike. “I guess that comes from my lifelong love of Norman Rockwell’s work.”

The way Pike approaches his work is very simple by letting the piece evolve on its own.

“I have no specific philosophy on art,” said Pike. “I think that our philosophies and over-analyzation of art can get in the way. If artworks, I think it’s good art.”

As a big fan of Kruger and other caricature artists, Pike decided to see what would happen if he tried the same thing using a photograph and working in Photoshop. It went over well with the contests and within a matter of months, Pike was doing magazine illustrations.

“It took me nearly 50 years, but I found myself doing the kind of work I dreamed of doing as a kid,” said Pike.

To create his art, Pike uses an iMac and Wacom Cintiq tablet, and mainly works in Adobe Photoshop, but also uses software such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Painter, and ArtRage along with numerous third-party filters like Topaz. Pike never approaches a piece the same way twice, and is always looking for new angles and ways to improve his art, or to reinvent it.

“Photoshop is a really fun tool and there’s a lifetime of learning in that one program so my work is constantly changing partly because of technology, but mainly because it has just evolved,” said Pike.

There will be limited prints available to purchase at the show or by going to TheHealthcareGallery.com. You can find more of Pike’s work at RodneyPike.com.

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