PAINTINGS by Rolf Rykken

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"Blue Cups," 1999, oil on panel, 20" x 16"


"You Are So Divine," 1996, oil on wood, 27"x24"

An I Hate Artists' Statements Statement

A woman I knew once observed that I seem to live "fully in the present." It was nice of her to put a positive spin on what I'm doing, although others, who suffer a deeper knowledge of me, see me as wallowing in the past. To which all I can say is, well, it gives me something to paint about. Some of my paintings are present tense and seemingly of a "fun" nature. I've done many similar scenes - friends and pets enjoying themselves at the beach or at the park, or just being together in a comfortable domestic setting - to balance, in a way, the sad and darker works about the end of marriage. This may be the journalist in me - striving for balance even in pictorial story telling - although visually, I work for imbalance, in the odd perspectives, composition and seemingly crude drawing. I came to realize that while paintings such as these might qualify as "fun," most are just as much about the sense of loss and longing that drove earlier "sad" paintings. See? My older friends are right - I do wallow in the past. And even though many of my paintings focus on the past, so what? My paintings really serve more as elegies than as pathologies. Many are celebrations of a loving domesticity, even if the domesticity and love are nostalgic. As for the recurring dog, she's an art-historic symbol of domesticity, dependability and unconditional love. Some of the newer paintings are still "fun," just sadly fantastical domestic scenes with an imaginary wife and child and pets. These too are elegies - celebrations of a life that now seem out of reach. Except in painting. As in serious fiction writing, where it is often best to write about what you know, the same can apply to painting: paint about what you know, what you miss - and what you desire.

"Who (?) in the Afternoon," 2001, oil on panel, 24" x 36"