articles
todd
camplin
2014
JAMES M RIZZI
at Circuit 12 Contemporary through August 30
by Todd Camplin

James M Rizzi’s installation looks to be an enormous graffiti tag mark. Circuit 12 Contemporary’s
newly remodeled space allows for a kind of white cubed version of a panoramic view. Owner
and curator Dustin Orlando explained that he wanted a space where you could step back
and take-in all the works. Rizzi’s work fits the space perfectly, considering Orlando’s curatorial
vision. Only one thing about the marks in the show, Rizzi did not spray the walls, but rather brushed
and rolled the paint on. But why does his install feel like graffiti?
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For a little history we have to look back to 1949 when Bonnie and Edward Seymour invented the
spray paint can. Much like the way paint stored in metal tubes made the revolution of plein air
artists known as the Impressionist possible; the spray can has changed much of our visual
landscape in all the artistic fields. The 1970’s saw an explosion of more complex design by
graffiti artists and by the 1980’s some of these artists moved into the galleries. Spray can
paintings have moved into major collections and even museums have acquired these
works. Some artists even reference the spray can effects and simulate the style without even
using the actual can to paint their subject matter. Now Rizzi does use the can in some of his
work, but the marks made in this show are simulated spray can action marks. Rizzi has
increased the scale of his marks in similar fashion to Oldenburg or Koons, yet these are
Rizzi’s own marks he is referencing. The room feels like Rizzi hired a giant who took a
massive spray can and tagged the whole gallery.
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Installation View
Installation View
Installation View
Cornered off in a cluster are smaller pieces that reflect the wall design. The strokes and drips
simulate graffiti tag marks. Some of the Abstract Expressionists may have discovered an
appreciation of the drip, but graffiti artists celebrate the flow of paint pulled by gravity.
Rizzi too celebrates this natural movement of paint.  It is in a controlled, almost Roy Lichtenstein
approach, but I believe without Lichtenstein’s ironic Pop critique of abstract art. There is also
a gorgeous round painting that perfectly reflects the motion of the painted lines.

James M Rizzi, not to be confused with James Rizzi the Pop artist that passed some years ago,
also has a more colorful side to his work. Personally I prefer his black and white series for the
simplicity of the simulated mark. His colorful works use similar strokes and motions, but in a few works
he begins to layer in shading techniques and under painting that are a bit distracting.
I respond more positively to just the black line pieces with solid colors. Those works step far
enough away from typical graffiti style. Rizzi’s work that references graffiti, but also references
a connection to the avant garde is the strongest because he ties together both traditions
without allowing one tradition to become louder than the other.  Of course, this is completely
irrelevant to the work currently up at Circuit 12 Contemporary, because none of his color paintings
are in the show.
Installation View
Circuit 12 Contemporary will show Brooklyn, New York born artist James M Rizzi until the end of the
month on August 30th. On September 6th, Casey Gray will be showing spray can work that plays
on in the traditional painting genres of landscape, still life and portraiture. I am interested to see
how Gray conceals and reveals the spray can’s effects as a tool.