ART - BENITA MUNITIZ (CAPE TIMES) 1990
RISI DISTORTS NATURAL SHAPES INTO NIGHTMARES
Paintings and drawings by Gavin Risi. At the Auto Atlantic Gallery.
If you keep switching channels on TV these are the kind of visions you are likely to experience.
Gavin Risi's art is brash, brittle, anxious, media conscious, cracker-sharp, cybernetics inspired, and a whole lot more that stamps it unequivocably as a product of these last decades of the twentieth century.
At the same time these paintings tell a lot about what came before. Among the mazes, mosaics and tangled webs of colour you'll find references to a number of this centuaries art'isms and movements.
Ah-ha - an artists fresh out of school, you might conclude. But with three decades behind him, studies at London's Byam Shaw School of Art and exhibitions in several countries during extensive travels; Risi has learned his lessons well. And what he makes of his medley of influencees is undeniably a personal statement and maybe even an intriguing contribution to contemporary perceptions of pictorial space.
Much of his first solo exhibition looks rather like a series of explosions dispersing kaleidoscopic fragments that pack space into a media arena. Controlled explosions would br more accurate for there's nothing random about the way whooshes of colour and mosaic pieces of predators and patterns of birds and bones, steps, skeletons and other diverse images fall into place, contrlled chaos you might call it.
Risi takes images from everywhere architecture, comics, art, religion, nature.... he stretches and distorts natural shapes into nightmare dimensions and creates others that recall drug induced imagery and computer generated abstractions there selection (or non selection) seems arbitrary and everything appears to be of equal importance or non importance.
Animated iteraction takes place in an arena of indeterminate dimensions that strongly suggests cyberspace a nonspecific energy field created by and for electronic activity. In a non-pictorial sense it's an area of critical importance to high-tech communication.
As significant to our time as was the machine to the futurist era ( 1900 to around 1915). Is Risi working on an updated concept of Cubist - Futurist space. An intriguing possibility.
In the manner of virtual reality. Risi's paintings draw us into a TV style claustrophobic cacophonic arena where we are bombarded with fragmented images of every program we've seen - a contemporary vision of hell that updates Hieronymus Bosch.