Abstract figuration, bold color in "Just Passing Through" (2019)


Just Passing Through (2019, Richard D. Weis)

Bursts of colors create shapes in Richard D. Weis’ Just Passing Through, 2019. As the strokes of acrylic congregate in the center of the canvas, a figurative blur begins to appear. Expressionless and almost incomplete, the profile of a masculine face dominates the scene.

Weis channels color abstraction in his work. Carefully depicting shadows and highlights as unidentifiable pieces of the puzzle, he fuses Color Field with Abstract Expressionism creating a world within each visual outcome. Parallels to Weis’ approach can be drawn from the work of American artist Albert Stadler. Consider Just Passing Through as a contemporary adaptation of Stadler’s Fallen, 1979. Stadler features a figurative shape mid-canvas with a line-less figure constructed of colorful fragments. Similarly, Weis seems to construct his figure through a configuration of strokes and color.

Albert Stadler, Fallen, 1979

The origin of Richard Weis’ work stems from the observed and the interpreted world around us. Combining abstraction with narrative creates the ultimate optical experience.

Overlap between Richard Weis and Egon Schiele appears throughout the composition of Just Passing Through.  At first glance, comparing the wonderfully delicate lines of Schiele to the bold brush strokes of Weis may seem to be a stretch, but it is not in the physical techniques that the similarities lay. Beyond the visual outcome hides the process, the constructed, personal, emotion and complex journey of each work. As both artists cling to bold color, Weis more so than Schiele, there is a considered chaos that runs throughout both artists’ work.

Egon Schiel, Standing male figure (self-portrait), 1914

For Schiele, portrait work depicted the strange and taboo-ridden people he encountered. Each of the people featured in Schiele’s collection of work seem to be hiding something. There is a mysterious, nameless question asked to all who observe.  In a similar way, Weis asks the audience to unearth meaning in his work without providing many directional clues. While the identity, and even the form, of the figure in Weis’ work is left unknown, whereas in Shiele’s work, vague descriptions are often given as titles.

If mystery is a possible theme, then it is fair to assume that the creation of the figurative shape may be purely coincidental. Depending on the context of  Weis’ work itself, to each viewer a figure may appear or not at all. The compilation of colors may generate an alternate meaning all together. But maybe that is the point. The outcome is, after all, only a bi-product of the process in the work of Richard D. Weis.

Elizabeth Spadea
Jan. 16, 2020
for Ellenbogen Gallery


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