Dan Rizzie is a skillful, inventive and unconventional painter. His art is not simply decorative, even though it is about surface and texture. He labors intuitively, allowing one shape or line to lead to another. He prefers aged paint surfaces that suggest centuries of urban decay like an old Italian wall, using a physically strenuous layering method that incorporates newsprint (The New York Times is most absorbent), gel, and gesso. He scrapes and abrades the surface, staining it to achieve the distressed quality he prefers. Only then is ready to begin painting. Rizzie never uses color straight from the tube. By mixing dirt, plaster, and coffee grounds into the paints he achieves the rich textural variations he desires. Through an additive process, Rizzie obsessively reworks every portion of a painted composition although the final creation never betrays the struggle.
Rizzie is particularly sensitive to materials and reuses old favorites in his collages and paintings. A serious collector of vintage textiles and linoleums, Rizzie consciously replicates hand screened and blocked effects. The refined shapes of ornamental wrought iron, which he also admires and collects, appear in his paintings. Rizzie’s early work was abstract in form and stylistically connected to historical modernism. Over time he refined his visual vocabulary to include cones, circles, triangles, and squares, as well as musical notes or ornamental curves like those found on wrought-iron fences. About 1983, Rizzie began introducing representational imagery such as flowers and vines, tree branches, lettering, teapots and anthropomorphic vessels into his work.
Rizzie grew up in India, Egypt, Jordan and Jamaica, where his father was stationed in the diplomatic corps. He first began to achieve national recognition in Texas. Since relocation to the East End of Long Island, his work has softened and become more influenced by details from the natural landscape. Today, Rizzie considers his paintings to be rooted in common objects, an extension of the still life genre.
Written by Donna Stein, Interim Curator at Guild Hall of East Hampton, Inc.