Eric Rippert's personal landscapes at BAYarts
Now on display in the Sullivan Family Gallery at BAYarts is the work of Cleveland artist Eric Rippert. Primarily a photographer, he has branched out into paintings the past two years. This particular exhibition is titled "The Man Whose Head Expanded" a title that was was pulled from the English post-punk band The Fall. The paintings followed suit, with emotionally resonate titles like "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore," "Things I will Keep" and "Life and How I Live it."
"I chose to call the paintings by the titles of songs I listened to while I was in my studio painting," explains Rippert. "To me, music inhabits the same subconscious space inside me that my paintings come from."
Symbols included in these paintings include several skulls, playfully loped flowers, a train, a rocket, clouds and houses. They were created with a multitude of mediums: acrylic gesso, enamel, latex, graphite, oil pastel and ink. Splatters and organic shapes share the space with precise geometric forms as if to say "don't relax into your expectations." There's a lot going on here.
Those aforementioned skulls are almost comical, with simplified teeth squares. The blank eyesockets actually have more under them to those who venture up closer to the piece to see what's beaded under them. Skylines creep up from the bottoms of canvases, black as coal, only to be met with muted blue waters. Pure swaths of solid color are offered in a pink house, a red background and peach lips. But so much of the work also has a sense of erosion, with transparent layering and fluctuating gradients. The built texture is everywhere.
The imagery used is personal to Rippert, who draws from both recent and past memories. "Remembering my childhood trips to the playground and my grown-up trips to the museum is the inner prep work for my painting."
But one does not need to know his full inner biography to appreciate the art. Rippert wants an emotional reaction, whatever it may be to the viewer. "It would be great if visitors to my exhibition could experience some sort of sensation that is out of the ordinary; an awareness that may be difficult to immediately identify or define, like the feeling one gets when reminded of a blurry moment from long ago."
In one piece, "Sad if I Lost It", which calls up images of graffiti, a frenzied ribbon of blues could appear to be a foreground of water, as the bold colors behind present a background that could be anything. Is it a hot air balloon or carnival scene, with a steel-beamed Ferris wheel created by rising black angles? It's up to the viewer.
"The Man Whose Head Expanded" will be on display at BAYarts until July 5.
Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.
BAYarts is a cultural arts campus that features education, exhibition and events.