Rod Penner (born 1965) creates hyperrealist paintings depicting the streets, gasoline stations, and single-family homes in small Texas towns. Penner’s keenly observed works represent a combination of photojournalism and Photorealism. With their beauty and forlorn content, his images evoke memories of “The Last Picture Show”. The images elicit complex and contrasting responses of melancholy and warmth, isolation and serenity. Penner’s hyperrealistic technique meticulously records both the iconic imagery and the unique textures of small-town America.
Rod Penner was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1965. Penner studied at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia, and then earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1986.
His first solo exhibition in 1990 was held at Kauffman Galleries in Houston, Texas. He has had solo shows at such venues as O.K. Harris Works of Art and Amarillo Museum of Art. He is represented in New York by Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe.
His work is included in the permanent collections of Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Flint Institute of Art, Flint, Michigan; Virlane Foundation, New Orleans, Louisiana; and ORU in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Penner currently lives and works in Marble Falls, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have five children.
“I’ve made a conscious decision to paint what I know, to paint the familiar. As a resident of Texas, this has meant suburban tract hones, small-town side streets, and, more recently, the abandoned gas stations of secondary highways. I moved to Texas from the west coast of Canada in 1988, and the startling contrast of those environments enabled me to see the landscapes of my new home with objectivity of an outsider.
Having my subjects so close at hand means I can spend my time in the studio, not driving for miles in search of things to paint. It allows me to revisit a scene and study it in a different light, at a different time of day. I can’t always explain why I choose a certain subject and not others. A combination of contrasts creates a kind of tension; common objects or buildings that are so familiar they’ve become invisible, under certain conditions, under a certain light, possess an inherent beauty.
Digital photography has allowed me to zero in on potential subjects more quickly. I can almost instantly tell whether or not a particular photo will translate into a painting. In the studio, I alter the photos using Photoshop, creating more detail in light and dark areas, while also adjusting color and values. I sometimes remove objects, usually cars or people. I methodically work on a small area of the painting each day, bringing it to completion before moving onto another section. I work from the top to bottom and left to right. I print large detail photos to aid in each day’s work. While each painting is based on one or two reference photos, multiple detail shots are used to bring individual areas of the painting into sharp focus. In this light, hyperrealism is probably a more accurate description of my work.
I’m interested in a moment in time that is completely frozen, in the look of everyday things and places, and the quality of “being there.” The finished paintings, depicting a variety of textures–peeling paint, crumbling asphalt, an early light hitting the grass–should evoke contrasting responses of melancholy and warmth, desolation and serenity–everything that I’ve found small-town America to be.”
-Rod Penner, from the book Photorealism in the Digital Age © 2013
Citation: Bernarducci, Frank, Harris, Elizabeth K., and Meisel, Louis K. Photorealism in the Digital Age. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2013.
2018 – “From Lens to Eye to Hand: Photorealism 1969 to Today,” Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan
2017 – Ameringer/McEnery/Yohe, New York, New York
2014 – “Photorealism: The Everyday Illuminated,” Jonathan Novak Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California
2013 – Ameringer/McEnery/Yohe, New York, New York
2011 – “Four Decades of Photorealism,” Mana Art Center, Jersey City, New Jersey
2011 – Summer Group Show, Ameringer/McEnery/Yohe, New York, New York
2010 – “Expansion,” Bernarducci.Meisel Gallery, New York, New York
2009 – “American Dream,” The National Museum in Krakow, Poland
2008/09 – “Shock of the Real: Photorealism Revisited,” Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida
2006/07 – “Photorealism: Cultural Icons,” Jonathan Novak Gallery, Los Angeles, California
2006 – “Photorealist Paintings from the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Collection,” Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Lafayette, Louisiana
2005 – “American Photorealism,” Iwate Museum of Art, Japan; traveling exhibition in Japan; Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey
2003 – “Iperrealisti,” Chiostro del Bramante, Rome, Italy
2003 – “Contemporary American Realism VI,” M.A. Doran Gallery, Tulsa, Oklahoma
2002 – “New Generation Photorealists,” Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, New York
2002 – Selections from “New American Paintings #42”, OSP Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts
2002 – “As Real As It Gets: Super Realism and Photo-Realism from the Tucson Museum of Art and Private Collections,” Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona
2002 – “Contemporary Realism V,” M.A. Doran Gallery, Tulsa, Oklahoma
2001 – “Contemporary American Landscapes: An Urban and Rural Perspective,” M.A. Doran Gallery, Tulsa, Oklahoma
2001 – “Tulsa Collects,” Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma
2000 – “Houston Celebrates Texas Art 2000,” Williams Tower Gallery, Houston, Texas
1996 – “Ivan Karp: The Face of Contemporary Art, A Celebration of Forty Years of Fine Arts Dealership,” Norton Center for the Arts, Centre College, Danville, Kentucky
1996 – “A Survey of Contemporary American Realism,” Posco Gallery, Seoul, South Korea
1991 – Texas Visual Arts Association National Spring Open Exhibition, Dallas, Texas
1990 – Texas Visual Arts Association National Spring Open Exhibition, Dallas, Texas
1989 – Jewish Community Center’s 22nd Juried Art Exhibition, Houston, Texas
1987 – Second Annual International Miniature Art Exhibition, Toronto, Canada
1986 – Bateman Selects, Nicolayson Art Museum, Casper, Wyoming