Artist puts political spin on religious painting

Diane Crocker dcrocker@thewesternstar.com
Published on May 24, 2014
Rodney Mercer is the Corner Brook artist of this work, “Painted With the Same Brush.”  
— Submitted photo

Rodney Mercer is not flying his political colours in his latest work, but he says it is a reflection of the times.
In a painting titled “Painted With the Same Brush,” the Corner Brook  artist depicts former premiers, Kathy Dunderdale and Danny Williams, and premier-designate Frank Coleman as the holy family in homage to Raphael’s “Madonna With the Beardless Joseph.”

Dunderdale in the Madonna role holds Williams, as the infant Christ figure, with Coleman, as the beardless Joseph, alongside.

“In genre painting, the Christ figure is often seen as part of the Trinity, past, present and future,” Mercer said. “The narrative in the painting, I think, is something most viewers are going to get.

“We would hope that we live in what is called a democracy. Where our leaders are chosen ... and our leaders share the majority of our opinion.”

But Mercer said he and others don’t think that’s actually the case now.

“Some people feel like even though some people aren’t in power, they kind of are,” he said.

He said he’s heard of a discontent with the way things are happening.

“There are people who have been longtime supporters of their party who are not happy campers. They’re just not,” Mercer said.

He said when people see the painting, the thing he hears the most is, “I hit the nail right on the head.”

Speaking out publicly is not something the quiet artist normally does.

“I speak in pictures and I think in pictures. There’s a lot of artworks in the past that I have thought about doing that I didn’t do and I always regretted it,” he said.

“So when I get a work and I think it’s strong, as long as there’s content there, you know. You can have a picture or anything or a sculpture or whatever, you have your form, but you have to have content there as well as a reflection of the time and the people.”

This work, which took him about two weeks to complete, follows another politically inspired work, a seal skin portrait of talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

“Painted With the Same Brush” is currently on display at Mercer’s studio at JL Gallery on Broadway, but it will soon be making its way to Rocky Harbour where it will be part of an exhibition of his work at Urve Manuel’s Glass Gallery and Studio.

The Western Star