Gavin Rain

Mona Lisa

Gavin Rain was born in Cape Town on 23 March 1971. He studied Art and Neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town in the 80’s and 90’s. Rain has been painting his whole live, but started with pointillism around 2003/2004. Earlier in his live, he planned to study architecture, to try and combine his two interests: art and mathematics. He regularly has solo exhibitions all over the world in renowned galleries and art fairs.

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. In 2011, Rain participated in the 54th Venice Biennale, in the Republic of Costa Rica pavilion with an original portrait of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2013, he presented in the Republic of Bangladesh pavilion with a work entitled “Lena”.

Up close, Rain’s paintings consist of small concentric dots painted in different colors of acrylic paint. From a distance your eye puts these colors together into one. The further the viewer steps back, the more clear the portrait becomes. He starts his paintings by making a sketch of the portrait he wants to paint. To decide the place of the dots on the canvas, he either uses a grid, made of strings, or projection. The grid takes about ten hours to make, but is more accurate then using projection, so Rain still uses both techniques. Then he picks the colors for the final dots. He starts by deciding the final color that he wants a dot to be and starts working backwards. Rain has a list of 14.000 different dots that he has made. Out of this list, he picks the combination that creates the color he wants. Another important part of the technique is changing each dot size.

The white canvas Rain uses as a background means that the smaller the dot, the more white background around it. So the bigger the dots, the darker an area gets and the smaller the dots, the lighter the area becomes. This, combined with the distant final color each dot makes is how the image is created. However, the colors of separate dots will merge together into a new color as well. So, it’s not just each dot but also a combination of dots that makes the color.