Artweek.LA: Roland Reiss

Roland Reiss: Retrospective (November 3, 2014)

Nov. 22, 2014

Roland Reiss has a long and influential history in the L.A. and Southern California art scene. Reiss’ early work owed a lot to Abstract Expressionism, but he brought new plastic materials popular during the 60s in L.A. into the work featured in this exhibit. However, the Conceptualist movement of the 70s opened up a new world to Reiss where content mattered. He began to explore human drama in narrative miniature tableaus filled with clues and encased in Plexiglas. Viewers were invited to interpret the myths of modern American culture, from actual murder cases to life in the corporate world by entering a scene frozen in time.  As he says, he sought to condense “a complexity of ideas in a single piece.” Reiss also continued to explore the human condition in a series of heroic scale figures, mixing stylistic properties across the histories of art, reflecting modern day stereotypes with humor.

At the apex of his career, Reiss felt “I have no more stories to tell.”  As critics and curators declared painting dead, he had already started investigating hundreds of studies for painting. His intent was to “take painting beyond where it has been,” believing it is impossible to deplete the possibilities of any medium. What seems like the product of gestural spontaneity are actually extensively rehearsed moves. He describes his work as “energy fields and spaces in which forms are operative and you can interact with visually.”  Also included in the show will be his latest series of Floral Paintings which explore time of day, and realism versus flat graphic shapes.