A solo exhibition by a San Diego painter who describes himself as an “anti-artist” opens April 1 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts.
“Sweat and Panic: People, Products, and Concrete” by Weston Riffle features 80 of his paintings that depict the struggle for virtue and comfort in Home County San Diego.
“I wish to express a simple purity in the desire, action and hope of the people and places I have known,” said Riffle, born in La Mesa in 1970. “Overall, the themes, images and concepts reflect real and imagined memories of my experiences growing up as a rural Californian, traveling through the Central Valley, stories of previous generations, and growing old myself.
“The general theme is the struggle of the individual against misunderstood forces. Form, composition and color develop around the individual or situation that I try to resolve or represent with each painting. Usually complex beginnings end with a simple composition. A fatalistic vision seems to be the result.
The free exhibit will be displayed through May on both floors of the center at 15498 Espola Road.
Riffle received his bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in 1993 and his master’s degree from San Jose State University in 1996. He is a mostly self-taught painter who calls himself an anti-artist .
“For me, anti-artist means rejecting the rules, language, definitions and elitism of art and artists,” Riffle said. “Anti-art is one thing, and I agree with that in part, but it’s been embedded in the art world for 100 years.
“My position is that the artistic community at all levels limits art and is controlled by a group of people who mass themselves with words and sanctioned rebellion. Everyone is an artist or I am not.
Riffle’s work depicts the beauty and culture of California, particularly the southern and agricultural regions. His paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions and in permanent collections throughout California, including the National Steinbeck Museum in Salinas, the William D. Cannon Art Gallery, the Oceanside Museum of Art, and the Gotthelf Gallery in La Jolla.
“In style and subject, Weston Riffle’s work is reminiscent of the social realism movement that had its heyday in America and Mexico between the two world wars – a realism that both celebrated working people and critiqued social forces. -economic and political that create inequality,” said Deborah M. Williams, owner of Fresh Paint Gallery in La Jolla.
“At first glance, the brightly colored paintings of farmhands and fishermen appear to be simply celebrations of rural California life – and they certainly are – until we notice the hidden faces and repeating figures identical.
“It’s as if the farm workers in their anonymity are so many interchangeable parts in a larger machine,” added Williams. “Or maybe the repetitive nature of their backbreaking work has erased their individuality. The politician makes himself known through the personnel.
Other works by Riffle are available at http://www.fatsip.com, exhibited at the Golden Pine Gallery in Idyllwild and at the Borrego Art Institute for a solo exhibition in October 2022.