Ratcliff manages to give what is otherwise an almost purely abstract field the power to evoke a palpable sense of dread and disorder. – Bob Nickas
Honor Fraser is pleased to present Bsckground, an exhibition of new paintings by Los Angeles based artist David Ratcliff. This marks Ratcliff’s first exhibition with the gallery as well as the artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles.
Bsckground features works that are reluctant to reveal their beginnings as sketches, doodles, cartoons and drawings. Ratcliff collects images online from “photographs of things people have made,” severs the images from any normalizing and explanatory context, and fragments and layers the images to the point of abstraction. And yet, by juxtaposing these found images of text, scribbles, animal caricatures, civilian self-portraits, and excerpts from billboards, he evokes a very specific and intellectually representative narrative. Through the abrupt and often violent meeting of images in his paintings, Ratcliff exposes and emulates the glut of American consumption and in the delicate balance between positive and negative space, he offers an unforgiving visual narrative of contemporary American social history.
Although Ratcliff’s paintings show little, if any evidence of his hand, they are highly calculated and labor-intensive. Once he assembles and prints a digital collage, he painstakingly cuts out each intricate detail of the final image and creates a mask to adhere to the canvas. While this step in Ratcliff’s process takes weeks, the painting process takes place within a matter of minutes. As Ratcliff paints, he begins to relinquish control – he sprays paint on the delicate mask and the edges curl up, the paint bleeds beneath the paper, and bits and pieces of his meticulously cut collage fall from the canvas. Ratcliff welcomes these “mistakes” as vital aspects of the process and takes further advantage of the distressed remnants in his Second Paintings. In these works, he sprays the stencil a second time, onto a new canvas, and procures a highly abstracted composition that bears little resemblance to its first-born sibling. These works demonstrate Ratcliff’s surrender to the disintegration of his carefully plotted process and ironically, manifest the complete obfuscation of his source imagery.
David Ratcliff lives and works in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Ratcliff has shown both nationally and internationally with solo exhibitions at Team Gallery, New York, Tomio Koyama, Tokyo, Rodolphe Janssen,Brussels and Maureen Paley,London. His work is part of the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Saatchi Collection and the Jumex Collection.