Rich Lopez debuts "The New Madness" at New Jersey's BLAST

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Artist Rich Lopez (aka rLoArt) brings a show of paintings titled "The New Madness" to BLAST in Teaneck, NJ.

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I like surprises. I hate when a painting doesn't give me any trouble.

Rich Lopez (AKA rLoArt) hails from Northern NJ, and holds a BFA (with a studio arts major) from William Paterson. He currently works as a scenic painter in New York City.

For the paintings in this show, the surface is very important. Lopez describes his affinity for working with plywood. “I love painting on it, sanding it, beating it up, accidentally dropping it, picking it back up, and starting all over again. Art for me is like furniture. I like the way an old chair ages. A really old chair made of a good wood ages so nicely, that you never wonder what it used to look like The paintings in this show are built to age well. They may have dings or dents, but they look distinguished.” Lopez builds up the rich surface of his paintings by layering in color as well as newspaper for texture. This allows different colors to peek through, and create their own patterns. Lopez prefers this method, which allows the paint and other materials to interact in unexpected ways beyond the control of the artist. “I like surprises. I hate when a painting doesn't give me any trouble. I think it's important for artists to constantly be challenged by their own work, and to not get comfortable doing the same thing over and over again. I want the viewer to fall into the art.”

The paintings in “The New Madness” are populated with images of angels, robots, and other symbols floating above mysterious cityscapes. These narratives relate to what Lopez describes as “the backbone of religion—the human heart.” These paintings also reflect child-like superhero imagery that symbolizes the imaginary friends of youth. Lopez draws the connection between guardian angels and imaginary friends without diminishing the power of either. Lopez explains, “our imaginary friends never put us in jeopardy, and that's why they're harmless. He represents my childhood. Every kid seeks adventure, whether it be outside, or in his/her own mind. That's where these pieces take place—in the mind of a child becoming an adult, struggling to keep their view of the world fresh and unsullied.”

Lopez is inspired by the work of Keith Haring, especially his angel and demon symbols. Other artists that Lopez is encouraged by include Gary Baseman, Tim Biskup, and Jeff Soto. The work by these artists shows up beyond gallery walls—in magazines, on buildings, even lending their talents to Saturday morning cartoons. All three of these artists encourage Lopez through their work to pursue other mediums, while sticking to the subject matter that moves the artist. They all have a cartoon-like, playful, yet sophisticated approach to art.

Rich Lopez's show "The New Madness" will be showing at BLAST August 6 through September 5, 2011.

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