Simple People

The French Chef_SlothHaving previously exhibited in London and Beijing, Simple People is the first exhibition in Australia for the Danish-born, Melbourne-based artist, Rasmus Sandberg Sloth at Prahran’s RTIST Gallery.

Sloth’s fascination with portraiture began in his childhood home in Denmark, which was filled with old portraits that were beset with mystery. Simple People is a series of portraits that, while carefully structured in composition, imbue a sense of intricate artlessness and childlike splendour.

Sloth has drawn from the Cubist movement in Simple People, seen in the highly structured, colourful faces that grace his canvases: the brush strokes are bold and vibrant, and the angles irregular. Similarities can also be drawn to primitivism, with the portraits exuding the same sense of naïveté as tribal art or primordial cave paintings.

For Simple People, Sloth has adhered to a very particular aesthetic of blank white canvases with small, seemingly unfinished portraits in the centre. The portraits themselves stand out as bright, clean focal points on the sea of white canvas and capture the viewers’ first attention.

Each painting is minimal, even childlike in its construction, belying the complexity of the facial structures and the masterful use of negative space on the canvas. This manipulation of the white space itself is what is most captivating about the collection.

Working with acrylic glue on primed canvas, Sloth has ‘destroyed’ the surface of each canvas by pouring a coat of lacquer over the top. This technique provides a farcical take on the process of Chinese Ming vases being lacquered, and is in contrast to orthodox artistic techniques that see the artist strive for perfection. This destruction of the canvas, as if by a child, is in fact a considered technique that ultimately adds interest and edge to the collection as a whole.

Simple People
RTIST Gallery, 27 St Edmonds Road, Prahran
Exhibition continues to 8 July 2014

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The French Chef, Rasmus Sandberg Sloth