Toby Raine has a distinctive approach to painting. Moving oil paint across the surface of the canvas, his strokes are confident, rough and expressive. Peaks and splatters of his medium mix with thick, gestural strokes that rejoice in the materiality of paint. Taking an image or a photograph as a starting point, Raine's work ends up in a terrain between representation and abstraction. He writes, "There's no set goal except to make a painting work. I start with a projected image, and then I work into that... It comes out of a ritual, or a rule. The paint builds up and I work back into it or I wipe it off. There's a grapple between control and spontaneity. I typically waste a lot of paint, though hopefully, I reach a moment where I'll say, 'yeah that's interesting, that surprises me'. I'm not satisfied if I'm not surprised."
Raine's recent work has been inspired by popular culture, particularly referencing male icons or 'heroes' through the lens of portraiture. He invokes the magician, the rock god, the messiah, the prophet and the artist. He has a particular fascination with facial hair and the pride that is often assigned to it. By reflecting on influential and infamous artists and musicians, Raine explores how their image and ego affect his own identity. It comes as part of a wider investigation, where Raine considers the way men fashion their masculinity on historical examples.
Toby Raine is an Auckland-based artist who received a Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland in 2016. He has been a finalist in the Wallace Art Awards (2011, 2012, 2016) as well as a finalist in the Molly Morpeth Canaday Award (2014, 2015, 2016) and in the National Contemporary Art Award (2013).