Randall Reid: Visual Poet
by René Paul Barilleaux
Chief Curator/Curator of Art after 1945
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas
Randall Reid scavenges flea markets, junk shops, and garage sales for materials to make his intimate collages. Reid deconstructs his finds then employs their parts in nearly two-dimensional works, unlike many “artist-pickers” who create assemblages from found objects without significantly altering their appearance. Fragments, once familiar, are often unrecognizable when they are juxtaposed with and/or skillfully joined to elements which the artist fabricates in his studio. Old measuring devices, discarded signs, rusted metal tools-these and similar cast-offs are repurposed as art-making materials and given another life in Reid’s hands.
Using a format of squares or vertical and horizontal rectangles, Randall Reid composes his collages in a highly formal way, either emphasizing their rectilinear structure or playing against right angles. Framing, both literally and figuratively, is critical throughout Reid's art. In addition to the steel frames that surround the perimeters of the pictures, in some works concentric, internal frames draw the viewer to the collage’s center, as if looking through a series of windows or portals. In other compositions, which are either strictly horizontal or asymmetrical, Reid employs texture and line to visually engage and command attention.
Color is used in both restrained and dramatic ways. Elegant earth-toned palettes, nearly monochromatic, contrast with saturated hues and bright color swatches. In some cases typography adds an additional dimension—a single letter or fragment of a word refers to the world outside the work’s frame. While the collages are primarily formal in concept and design, elements such as typography allow outside narrative qualities to quietly creep in.
Above all else, Randall Reid’s collages and assemblages clearly demonstrate his love of materials-humble and unpretentious. On viewing these static works, one senses Reid’s pleasure in actively scouring the shelves and tabletops and bins of flea markets for hours, and the sparks of inspiration he derives from spotting a broken tape measure or old road sign. As a result, the poetic nature of Randall Reid’s creative process is evident as visual poetry in his art.
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