14 Feb 2013

Richard Stipl

Every six or so months I go looking for a photography book I saw once containing 1950s domestic scenes of "housewives" and "gentlemen" nursing and entertaining bizarre alien type creatures. I can't find it anywhere, it's driving me crazy. During a google thrashing session about a year ago looking for it, I found Richard Stipl. He kicked my arse.

Stipl was born in 1969 in Czechoslovakia. His family escaped the Soviet forces to the refugee camps of Austria during 1979. It was after a short, but no doubt impacting, stay they moved to Toronto in 1980. He attended the Ontario College of Art and Design from 1988 to 1992 and until a few years back was primarily a painter. His current work consists of wax figures or heads in various groupings or singular. The term for this style I guess is hyper (sur)realism but Stipl's work is very much a departure in this genre. 

Obscene sized or cross-species/genetic hybrids are bread 'n' butter now. Although impressive and close to my heart the clock has been ticking for the hyper clique but the usual suspects seem to care not. Stipl for me is different. Hyper to the extreme and his skill here is coveted for sure. Somewhat backhandedly his own website states "Stipl stands apart from his contemporaries through his uncanny ability to breathe a vital and invigorating “life force” into his art works, regardless of media". I think there is more to him than this skill. It is his surrealism for me that sets him apart. His interest is the human form. The real one. The one we see and the manifestation of the one we don't. It is not imagined or theorised. Implications of setting or future are of no interest. We see now, like it was an explosion burning your face and eyes. 

Quarter scale lives battle their own souls oblivious, shameless, in public. Their concerns hide us. We are, in-turn, faced with no choice but the uncomfortable show of the most private of moments. The rabid nature of confusion, the awkwardness of image. The physical manifestation of personal thought turns these souls to beasts and gods, among chaos for extended seconds.

I had night terrors as a teen. They slowly leak away from the already awake mind but the crossover stays forever. Richard Stipl has lived a long life for a young artist. I wait for the day I'll be able to see his work in the waxy flesh. Until then I'll die every moment. I wonder what it will be like to be faced with myself.

Click here for Stipl's web page. I hear a .com is on it's way.

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