Los Angeles

Julian Ritter

Poulsen Gallery

Ritter paints in three categories, sensuous, seductive calendar-girl nudes which he sells for large sums at Las Vegas, clown paintings, and his so-called “serious art.” In every case there is a certain superficiality, a lack of contact because he believes his own fantasy. To the sensitive viewer this schizoid involvement tells a rather sad tale. There really are no girls like his creations with better than Renoir flesh, tousled hair, pink nipples, seductive lips, and passively vacant stares. To touch these girls would be to make them vanish; they are without substance; but to believe in them is to make all men clowns and this he does. All the men in his paintings are clowns, and here we have the absurdity. In the clown paintings there are magic and carnival rites being performed which border on the macabre, all in loose and brilliant color, highly glossed. Man’s most serious efforts become absurd in the context of the nudes. One painting which perhaps tells most about the artist, The Secret Sweeper, shows a clown-like sweeper in the early dawn, his flying papers becoming a perfect orgy of American dream girls, the nude idol, the unattainable.

His “serious art” represents the smallest and most inconsequential things in the show. These are either rather artificial nonobjective things or sentimental and religious, and one gets the feeling of design class rules in the former or sincere attempts at feeling that isn’t there in the latter.

Technically Ritter has virtuosity but poor formal resolution except for his clown paintings which are his best. His theme is not without applicability in our society, but he needs freedom from his esthetic schizophrenia and the imposed rules.

Barbara Smith