Contemporary South African artist, Gavin Rain, works primarily in acrylic and is best known for his Neo-Pointillist style paintings.
Rain was born in Cape Town, South Africa. He studied art formally at the University of Cape Town, under artists such as Hannah Adams and South African art historian Dr. Jacqueline Nolte (although majoring in neuropsychology) and at Ruth Prowse Art School, in Woodstock, Cape Town. Having painted from a young age, Rain only arrived at his neo-pointillist style in 2004, taking roughly two years to formulate the style. In discussing the nature of his style and technique, Rain cites two main narratives in his work:
Hidden in plain sight - The main purpose for Rain developing a new style was to force viewers to acknowledge that part of the narrative of each painting is 'hidden in plain sight', whereby it is impossible to see the subject of the painting until the viewer takes a few steps back
Pseudo digital - The vast majority of Rain's neo-pointillist works are depicted using rows of dots in a pattern similar to that of a television or computer screen (see above images), emulating a digital image. The emphasis of the narrative in the work is on the gaps between the dots as a way of highlighting the lack of information presented by a digital image's necessarily distinct intervals of tone/colour.
In addition to exhibitions, Rain's work is available in galleries in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Milan and Venice. In 2009 Rain was chosen by the 2010 Fine Art Group (licensed under FIFA) to complete 12 portraits for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, taking place in South Africa, alongside artists such as Esther Mahlangu and Keith Calder.
Rain was invited to participate in the 54th Venice Biennale of 2011 by Fabio Anselmi, co-curator of the Costa Rica pavilion. For the occasion, Rain completed a 2m x 2m neo-pointillist piece of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition politician. Each point or dot of the work represented a country. Rain was picked for the Costa Rican pavilion before the selection of the South African pavilion (entering for the first time) was announced, amidst some controversy as to the choice of curator.
Gavin’s work promotes the notion of stepping back in order to see things. He points out that we should notice the people that shape our lives more. That we should notice the rise of the digital – and the implications this has on our society and lives. That at all times we should take a step back, take a breath, and consider our context.