Saturday, November 08, 2014


Installation View re-post of my article.

James M Rizzi’s installation looks to be an enormous graffiti tag mark. Circuit 12 Contemporary’s newly remodeled space allows for a kind of white cubed version of a panoramic view. Owner and curator Dustin Orlando explained that he wanted a space where you could step back and take-in all the works. Rizzi’s work fits the space perfectly, considering Orlando’s curatorial vision. Only one thing about the marks in the show, Rizzi did not spray the walls, but rather brushed and rolled the paint on. But why does his install feel like graffiti?

For a little history we have to look back to 1949 when Bonnie and Edward Seymour invented the artists known as the Impressionist possible; the spray can has changed much of our visual landscape in all the artistic fields. The 1970’s saw an explosion of more complex design by graffiti artists and by the 1980’s some of these artists moved into the galleries. Spray can paintings have moved into major collections and even museums have acquired these works. Some artists even reference the spray can effects and simulate the style without even using the actual can to paint their subject matter. Now Rizzi does use the can in some of his work, but the marks made in this show are simulated spray can action marks. Rizzi has increased the scale of his marks in similar fashion to Oldenburg or Koons, yet these are Rizzi’s own marks he is referencing. The room feels like Rizzi hired a giant who took a massive spray can and tagged the whole gallery.

Cornered off in a cluster are smaller pieces that reflect the wall design. The strokes and drips simulate graffiti tag marks. Some of the Abstract Expressionists may have discovered an appreciation of the drip, but graffiti artists celebrate the flow of paint pulled by gravity. Rizzi too celebrates this natural movement of paint. It is in a controlled, almost Roy Lichtenstein approach, but I believe without Lichtenstein’s ironic Pop critique of abstract art. There is also a gorgeous round painting that perfectly reflects the motion of the painted lines.

James M Rizzi, not to be confused with James Rizzi the Pop artist that passed some years ago, also has a more colorful side to his work. Personally I prefer his black and white series for the simplicity of the simulated mark. His colorful works use similar strokes and motions, but in a few works he begins to layer in shading techniques and under painting that are a bit distracting. I respond more positively to just the black line pieces with solid colors. Those works step far enough away from typical graffiti style. Rizzi’s work that references graffiti, but also references a connection to the avant garde is the strongest because he ties together both traditions without allowing one tradition to become louder than the other. Of course, this is completely irrelevant to the work currently up at Circuit 12 Contemporary, because none of his color paintings are in the show.

Circuit 12 Contemporary will show Brooklyn, New York born artist James M Rizzi until the end of the month on August 30th. On September 6th, Casey Gray will be showing spray can work that plays on in the traditional painting genres of landscape, still life and portraiture. I am interested to see how Gray conceals and reveals the spray can’s effects as a tool. for more images.

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