The Recovery of Reason After the Fall of Eden – 2013 – oil on canvas
Today Anthony Riggs gave an artist talk as part of the Brown Bag Lunch Lectures at the Triton Museum of Art in conjunction with his exhibition, The Telling of Beautiful Untrue Things (such a gorgeous title)! These aesthetically arresting paintings weave historical art imagery and patterns (from both Eastern and Western cultures) with religious and pop allegories and environmental and scientific symbolism. His paintings are studded with post-modern elements such as pixelation, color banding and employ a collaged style in which space, scale, light and color are all intentionally ambiguous. His figures, carefully rendered in three dimensional style, inhabit two dimensional spaces and are even bisected by flat swaths of pattern. Shadows are purposely inconsistent and color is thoroughly appealing but rarely reliable. All to underscore the artifice inherent in the the very act of painting.
The artist shared a quote from George Orwell that was on his mind as he created this body of work, “All art is propaganda.” In a time before the printing press, the radio, the television, and the internet, there was the power of the painting which was used through patronage of the Church and State and those in power to promote ideology and status. Painting is not truth – art and artifice go hand in hand and that is what Riggs is emphasizing in his seductive, apocalyptic paintings in which opposing ideologies and power dynamics intertwine in conflict without answers but leaving room for more questions. It is a good time to be questioning and seeking one’s own truth in this age of the internet where fake news and propaganda flows fast and furious and purposely muddies the waters between fact and fiction.
In Much Wisdom is Much Grief – 2017 – oil on canvas
All is Vanity and Vexation of Spirit – 2017 – oil on canvas
He that Increases His Knowledge Increases his Sorrow – 2017 – oil on canvas
The Future will be Better Tomorrow – 2012 – oil on canvas
The Star Planters – 2014 – oil and metal leaf on canvas
The Gemini (detail from diptych) – 2016 – oil on canvas
Anthony Riggs is based in Benicia, California. You can visit his exhibition, The Telling of Beautiful Untrue Things, which runs until August 5 at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, California or visit his website, anthonyriggs.com.