(Cape Town, 1971) is considered one of the greatest contemporary representatives of neo-pointillism or pixelism. He studied Art and Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town in the 90s. Rain has painted his whole life, but he became close to pointillism around 2004. Influenced by Seurat, the Russian avant-garde art of the 1900s and architecture, he wanted to combine his two interests: art and mathematics.
Using acrylic, Rain simulates the pixels in the construction of the image as on a screen or on a PC.
Rain’s goal is to broaden people’s visual and cognitive horizons by showing them the fantastic and the impossible. By combining his origins, his studies, his aptitudes and his personal talent, Rain has invented an art that is both unique and participatory. Anyone looking at one of his paintings can perceive the convergence of two opposing pictorial styles: the abstractness of the multitude of colored concentric circles that gather in dense and imperfect points in relief, and the figurative aspect of the image which is defined by the sum of these same points as the viewer takes a few steps back. It is precisely in this backing-off that the message envisaged by the artist is found: to become aware of something that is hidden but right in front of eyes, or “hidden in plain sight”, the bystander must move away, until a distance calculated.
The participation of the viewer, not only as a vision but as a body in motion, is a fundamental side of Rain’s work. Thanks to its movement within the exhibition space, the work moves from an abstract stage to a concrete image – and vice versa. The distance from the observation point, the depth of vision, the condition of the light and the perspective, become interactive elements and act on the fruition of the work until the image is fully recognizable.
One of the most important messages of his poetics concerns the ambiguity of the art work. Only from the right distance, the image takes shape and reveals itself. This is why pixelism or neo-pointillism, combined with artistic mastery, becomes an ideal compositional procedure. The distance between the points that will recompose the image, refers to the “pseudo digital”, a place where the research on the size and distance of the pixels – which the artist simulates with small concentric circles of acrylic paint, in different colors and forms – joins the theory of neuroscientific perception.
Rain has created more than 14,000 different points of color as a list, from which he draws for his works. The work concerns not only the choice and size of point colors but also their relationship with the white space of the underlying canvas. Image and image reception are two inseparable elements in the IT era and Rain assumes this paradigm as an artistic motto.
His international fame has led him to become one of the leading artists on the contemporary South African scene, and he was commissioned by FIFA to create 12 portraits for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, held in South Africa. Contemporary paradigm and pointillism, abstract and figurative, technical mastery and in-depth scientific studies, together with the involvement of the viewer and admirable attention to the exhibition space, make Gavin Rain a unique artist in the panorama of contemporary art.
In 2011 he participated in the 54th Venice Biennale of Art in the Pavilion of the Republic of Costa Rica with a portrait of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2013 he presented a work entitled Lena for the Pavilion of the Republic of Bangladesh.
He has participated in group exhibitions and art fairs all over the world and he has been the protagonist of personal exhibitions in prestigious museums and art galleries.