A mud-colored python wraps its anatomy about a comatose angel with amethyst hair. She is aloof by its adjacency and rests both of her calmly adjoin its arched belly. At the centermost of a target, a 1940s pin-up archetypal holds the arch of a gray garden snake amid her deride and basis finger, its ablaze breadth coils about her appropriate forearm. Faded blush blooming blossoms beleaguer them both as satellites chase beyond the sky.
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In two abstracted poses, the appropriate arm of a naked saint is captivated aloft by the appendage end of a atramentous and white snake. Even ample putti ride, caper and battle with snakes in the paintings fabricated by Anthony Riggs in his new display at the Triton Museum of Art.
Walking about the gallery, Riggs explained his allure with ophidian imagery: “A snake is a attribute of face-lifting and fertility. It sheds its skin.” He doesn’t acrylic them open-mouthed, acknowledgment fangs, assertive to bang at prey. They’re aloof “hanging out”but as alternating characters in the affecting narratives that his paintings depict. Every Act of Creation is an Act of Destruction (2014) appearance that magenta-haired angel and a additional one with ablaze blush locks. The lower bisected of the painting gathers calm an orchid, a cactus, a rhinoceros beetle and the above python. Centered at the top of this oil on canvas, a amethyst lotus in abounding blossom sends out aphotic blush stripes like the application fanning out of a animation sun. At arena level, a Hokusai-like beachcomber washes abroad the mural abaft two oil derricks and a atramentous outline of Monument Valley.
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Leonardo da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks is not the aboriginal painting that comes to apperception back you attending at this collage and blow of color, anatomy and meaning. Riggs’ assignment is both hyperrealthe beetle is about the admeasurement of an absolute rhinocerosand surreal, because of all the casuistic juxtapositions. But his access to this accumulating of paintings is allotment of his advancing analysis into a history of art that can additionally allege to the present. In this case, he looked for afflatus in Renaissance paintings and asked himself, “What could I acrylic today that could acknowledge to da Vinci’s idea?” Virgin of the Rocks includes Jesus as an article of adoration, but he and his mother are beat the acrimony of King Herod. As Riggs observed, “It has a faculty of doom or deliverance.”
He additionally says that his assignment deals with “not absolute science, but the way that accepted ability perceives it. If we do acceptable works, our science and technology can save the planet. We can save ourselves from the problems that we created.” If we don’t, the painting suggests that we ability aloof as calmly apprehend an ecology apocalypse. Riggs may accept started with da Vinci and the Renaissance, but his assignment is a amalgam of altered mythologies and acceptance systems. That’s how a lotus from the East communes with angels from the West.
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Before ambience acrylic to canvas, he makes a collage. “Collage is a fast way of accepting me to the amplitude area I appetite to paint.” It’s an acclimation assumption that gives him a faculty of what should go area and back to adapt a chock-full idea.
Riggs is by no agency a minimalist, but he didn’t alpha out painting activated mashups of pop culture, science, adoration and nature. At the alpha of his career, back he was addition out who he was as a adolescent man and an artist, Riggs corrective abstruse assignment in atramentous and white. Back you appear beyond a painting like The Decolonization of Reason (2015), based on the fable of Saint George and the Dragon, it’s adamantine to brainstorm him anytime alienation blush again.
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In his version, Riggs has so cautiously congenital a French floral wallpaper arrangement from the 1800s that it looks like decoupage. He addendum that the French adopted the pattern, like his peacock-blue dragon, from the Chinese. The active Saint George amount is abeyant mid-air adjoin the flowers and patches of rose acrylic that simulate broken debris of some comfortable fabric.
This alliance of patterns and cultures shouldn’t work, but it does, abnormally in paintings like this one area the artist’s acquainted efforts at storytelling are captivated by the shapes and colors. Back Riggs abandons the bookish account that jump-start his narratives, the assignment balances out bouncy moments of anarchy with the accord of his saturated palette. The paintings again are absolved from accepting to beggarly anything, and are artlessly beautiful.
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Anthony RiggsThru Aug 5, FreeTriton Museum of Art, Santa Claratritonmuseum.org
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