Reality Check - Contemporary American Trompe L'Oeil Exhibition Catalogue
Misfortune in the Desert, 2005
Oil on panel, 22 x 28 inches
Collection of the artist
Ron Rizk uses the traditional shadow-box niche as the setting for his surrealistic subjects. Combining a dreamlike sensibility with humor and whimsy, Rizk creates stories that draw viewers into a theater-like setting akin to a puppet show.
The artist's remarks:
"My paintings depict objects in shallow space and tell a narrative. The objects that I choose to paint are typically old, worn and have a specific use, such as tools, toys, and measuring devices. That the objects show signs of wear and use are important to the implied or overt narrative. Each object has a history of use and ownership that enriches its potential as subject matter for my paintings.
"Misfortune in the Desert employs themes and approaches that have been important in my work for the past thirty years. In this painting, a time worn puppet is seen in mid-leap over a large cactus. It is apparent that he will not successfully complete the jump. The puppet is clearly in grave danger of landing on the spiny cactus. The staged event occurs within a niche that has elements of a stage set. Both the puppet and cactus are painted illusionistically and are the stars of the show. The back wall of the stage or niche is decorated with a fitting southwest assortment of other cacti. The pattern of the gravel on the stage floor reveals a worn path indicating earlier attempts at the jump. A head start is suggested by the arched off-stage openings in the wings. Closer inspection reveals threads that suspend the puppet from tacks in the ceiling of the niche. I intend for my viewer to see these threads and to be aware of my deceit and the fraudulent animation. The idea of allowing the viewer to be privy to the subtle workings of my paintings is a recurrent theme in my work.
"The smooth surface quality of my paint application emulates that of the objects I paint, thereby lending them greater credibility. I strive to create a sense of the ordinary with what I choose to paint. Worn and chipped paint on a wood surface serves as an indicator of time and use. My work shows clearly that someone has been present earlier in each scene I paint.
"The work of painter John F. Peto (American, 1854-1907) has had a strong influence on me and my work. Peto's subject choices, sense of humor, use of color, and the directness of his use of paint are inspiring to me."