Meet Featured Artist Ralph “rEN”
Style: African American art/ surrealism/visionary – Oil on canvas/wood
The subject matter of my work originates from the same place most artist creative endeavors bubble up from. In many of my pieces, I am led to wrestle with certain
perceptions adopted in my past, but also a variety of ideas about the future. Painting has always been about aligning myself with what seems to come natural to me. The philosopher and scholar Joseph Campbell sums it up this way:
“Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.” — Joseph Campbell
My aim is to effectively communicate this idea to the viewer. With that being said, I am not particularly creative as an individual, rather there is a field of creativity that exist independently, all on it’s own. All we can do as artist is tap into it.
I began painting in the German-town section of Philadelphia, PA in 2006. With more than 2,800 murals, Philly boasts more impressive large scale public paintings than any other city in the world. Living and interacting with the people of that community for over four years heavily impacted my visual style.
I am a ferociously quick study and I have always had a passion for understanding the true nature of things. This type of insight is the driving element behind my work. I use oil paint primarily although I dabble in some mixed media and photography. I like the feeling of maneuvering the thick, pungent, colors over the canvas – which is something I have so far found exclusive to oil paint. Using a wide variety of rich colors, I attempt to communicate the typically over-looked meanings underneath sometimes very simple images. I am six-foot seven inches tall so I appreciate working on a large canvas. I also enjoy working quickly with large brushes. The intent of most of my subject matter is to suggest that the viewer seek the true meaning(s) of life…within.
Primarily self-taught, I like to say that I graduated from the prestigious university of blood, sweat, and tears!
The focus of my studies have always been on communicating ideas that challenge people to be curious about their own internal nature. My major visual influences are Salvador Dali, Alex Gray, Remedios Varo, and Jean Michel Basquiat. Fame and fortune have eluded countless great artist so my concentration has never been on either.
I simply love to create! I feel like this is what I have been put here to do. I would like for people to see themselves in my paintings. They are as much about you as they are about me.