Call Him Mr. Raider

Tiit Raid is our favorite kind of landscape painter: the kind who likes to muddle the genre’s matter-of-fact-ness with subtle perceptual tricks. You can stand before one of his photographically detailed, meticulously rendered interpretations of, say, the rivulet behind his Fall Creek, Wisc., home, marvel at its realism, and yet still walk away haunted by the suspicion that it’s all fake, hallucinatory. Raid’s paintings are both precise and preternatural—which, come to think of it, is just like Nature herself. Out in the woods, you can’t ever really trust your eyes.

“Bali: Roadside Near Ubud II,” courtesy
Thomas Barry Fine Arts

This, in essence, is Raid’s golden rule of painting, the grand take-away from his 35 years teaching at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire.

“You start assuming you see well enough, it’s the first step to becoming visually illiterate,” he once told Wisconsin writer Patti K. See. “Instead of seeing one thing, I see five things.”

And so it goes with the new suite of Raid landscapes, recently installed at Thomas Barry Fine Arts. In Raid’s hands, a snapshot taken at a Bali roadside becomes an overripe orgy of foliage, a swell of color threatening to nudge the lushness just past natural. Does it really look like that? Hard to say. But Raid’s “ultra-chrome” technique can make a viewer feel almost giddy. This holds true even when he’s doing black-and-white; a few monochromatic works of snow-laden tree branches chill with their heightened crispness.

Raid may never assume that he’s seeing well enough. But if these paintings are any indication, the septuagenarian’s vision is just fine.

“Tiit Raid: New Paintings”
Opening reception with the artist Friday, November 9
6:30­–9 p.m.
Thomas Barry Fine Arts, 900 Sixth Ave. SE, Mpls.