The struggle to make sense of our fading stories and archive our past realities as we search to comprehend our present is at the heart of James Rizzo's new body of work: The House that Joe Built. Rizzo makes work for each moment that gives reason for his unique self (who he is today). Using family relationships to find footing in the dilemma of how time and life become an amalgamation of past, present and future, Rizzo examines the undercurrents that have shaped us all. While previous chapters of work resonated around hardships that were once endured, Rizzo‚s new work reflects an optimism that takes into account the transformation of the past as it is rendered in the present.
Phillip Guston often spoke of leaving his demons at the studio door, so he could find clarity to work. Guston states, "I have never been able to escape my family. As a boy I would hide in the closet when the older brothers and sisters came with their families ... I felt my remoteness in the closet with the single ugh bulb, I read and drew in this private box. After a lifetime, I still have never been able to escape my family. It is true that I paint now in a larger closet: much, much larger, with many lights. Yet nothing has changed in all this time. It is still a struggle to be hidden and feel strange".
Rizzo views these "demons" much differently, as they become the very soul, which gives reason to preserve his past in paint. Accepting what may have once been considered hardships as the very foundation for who he is today, Rizzo surmounts his past findings by resurrecting what once was decidedly negative as positive in the present tense.
Rizzo's layered emotional mappings take shape in a lyrical manner of personal icons and passages illustrative of how the content unfolds in each work and experiences unfold in a conceptual dialogue. Rizzo uses this to share the innate process of being human. Through discovery and reconciliation, he allows the work to be shaped as a construction of personhood. Each work becomes an unfolding position of stages and allows the viewer to scan the exhibition as a personal time line, ideally reflecting on their own history.
The unfolding on the gallery walls achieves an earnest illustration of Rizzo taking that fearful look backwards. In this look back, each work becomes a place for viewers to position their own past cataloging, and see beyond the absurdity of what they are at present.
James Rizzo currently lives and works in New York. He received a BFA from the University of Florida in 1997. He has shown extensively throughout the United States, The House That Joe Built marks his first solo exhibition at the gallery.