Described as the master of cinematic subterfuge, Steve Rosendale takes icons of a bygone era and cuts them with suspense. His work operates like a memory, evoking an intoxicating yet inexact feeling. In this interview, Rosendale describes his process, intentions and what Old Hollywood can teach us today. Tune in.
What inspires you?
I get inspired by the mood and atmosphere of a faded photograph or the lens flare of a kodachrome film from the 1960's. It is enough for me to reminisce about a time period I never lived in.
Your work often evokes a bygone era, in particular the 1960s and 70s. What draws you to these periods?
It really started with film and television. All the re-runs that were on TV when I was a child. Mission Impossible, James bond, Alfred Hitchcock etc. The old film stock they used had a faded pastel quality to it and the characters and stories were more dramatic and idealized than what we see now.
How do you want viewers to respond to your work? What emotions or ideas are you interested in evoking?
The three main ideas I want the viewer to take away from the painting is a sense of drama, mystery and the feeling that there is some action or event that is happening just outside of the frame.
Some of your work represents a specific moment or figure from pop culture history, such as Neil Armstong or the 1972 film, ‘The New Centurions’. What is your process or criterion for selecting specific references?
I don't look for a specific moment or event in history to make a painting from, I am really only searching for the colour or mood to begin with. I let the whole process happen by instinct. I try not to have anything specific in mind. I sift through hundreds of films and photographs until one catches my eye and it will usually just have something to do with the color and mood. Not the subject itself.
What can the past, as imagined through your work, teach us about living today?
The past is certainly idealized in my work. A fantasy world that existed purely on TV at that time. An aspirational world rather than a real world. Though what was true of that time and earlier times was there was far more focus on beauty and design and craft. Something that people seem to have no time or patience for these days and are not willing to fund. For instance Dodge And Ford recently brought out classic versions of their Charger and Mustang cars because of the amount of interest in the original designs.
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