David Rathman has been heralded for his critical analysis of masculine iconography, the artist has gravitated towards maverick characters such as athletes, rock stars, race car drivers, and ranchers. After numerous years of exploring the concept of the American cowboy, Rathman’s subject matter is slated to evolve after this last look into the mysterious, testosterone-driven psyche of the American West. This work is focused on two small town 9-man teams playing in South Dakota - part of an intermittent series about high school football Rathman first started in 2008.
In a monochromatic sepia-toned palette, Rathman’s work depicts ghostly silhouettes of ambiguous gunslingers in Stetsons riding their trusty steeds across a barren landscape. Reminiscent of old shoddy film stills, the loose qualities of his painting technique evoke a shadowy nostalgia culled from pooling whiskey on an aging oak tabletop. Lonely as they seem, these romanticized figures of the past seem at home within the environments that echo their existence; hazy and ephemeral through the eyes of the viewer. Oftentimes these human mirages fuse into their backgrounds, as if struggling for sovereignty from their dusty tension-filled environments. The effect is one of haunting wistfulness for the historical narratives associated with “manifest destiny,” or for the fictionalized storytelling of Hollywood cinema as remembered by a young child. Rendered in the contrasting depth and frailty of watercolor, Rathman’s cowboy vignettes grapple with notions of sexuality, faith, mortality and melancholy.
DAVID RATHMAN (b. 1958, Choteau, MT) received a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1982. While primarily a painter, Rathman has produced limited edition books and prints, and has created several original films.
Recent solo exhibitions include “Somewhere Between,” Weinstein Gallery, Minneapolis, MN; “Up to You, Down to Me,” Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York, NY; “Stand By Your Accidents,” Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL and Rochester Art Center, Rochester, MN; “Hope I’m Never That Wrong Again,” Mark Moore, Culver City, CA; and “Let’s See What Stirs,” Larissa Golden Gallery, New York, NY. Recent group exhibitions include “TXTD,” Salisbury University Art Gallery, Salisbury, MD; “Box(e),” Jerome Zodo Contemporary, Milan, Italy; “Ultrasonic V, It’s Only Natural,” Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; “Every Man’s Life is a Fairytale,” Larissa Goldston Gallery, New York, NY; and “The Old, Weird America,” Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX. His work is in numerous public and private collections including The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA. David Rathman lives and works in Minneapolis.