Patrick’s artwork accords an importance and beauty to the everyday, to life’s ordinary moments. Faces, landscapes, abstract shapes and colours emerge as details of a far bigger picture, of an unfinished story. A prominent figure of Morija as well as the art landscape, Patrick Rorke divides his time between art-making, running the Maeder House Art Gallery and Linotsing Workshop, and working as a teacher and mentor to young artists.
Patrick’s artwork accords an importance and beauty to everyday, to life’s ordinary moments. Faces, landscapes, abstract shapes and colours emerge as details of a far bigger picture, of an unfinished story.
As Rorke explains, his art seeks to capture “the quick glance, the unthought gesture, that moment in the passing of things which is there for the taking for whoever is willing simply to look”.
“One follows inspiration in order to understand, and once understanding has been reached one returns over and over to that point until even that understanding falls away and there is nothing but the brush and the colour.” Rorke describes the process of his art-making as a continuous “search” – a journey of exploration which is cyclical, which leads to understanding and meaning, only to be followed by a renewed sense of discomfort and incomprehension.
Rorke’s work evokes a number of places and influences. His landscapes – with the rugged presence of mountains and cliffs delineated against wide empty skies – are undeniably Southern African. And yet, in the figures, tones, and movement of his paintings there is something implacable – a mix of continents, cultures and – perhaps – of elements which are not confined to any place or time. One senses the energy and cosmopolitanism of Johannesburg, where he lived and worked for twenty years, but one also finds in his work intimations of the sparse beauty of Lesotho, the country of his birth, to which he has recently returned.
Rorke is currently based in Morija, where he divides his time between art-making (in multiple forms), running the Maeder House Art Gallery and the adjacent Linotsing Workshop, and working as a teacher and mentor to young artists. He says he is happy to be back in Lesotho: “It’s good to be painting here and slowly, imperceptibly, the coulours of the place seem to be pervading my work and the gloom and harshness of Johannesburg seem to be lifting.”
See some of Patrick’s work in this gallery. Click on the thumbnails to view the images.