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Erik ReeL painting World Without Walls
Erik ReeL, “World Without Walls”, acrylic on canvas, 82 x 92 inces, 184 x 208 cm, in UpFront Studio with Rhonda Hill, February 2017

ReeL’s technique exhibits a high degree of transparency, layering, sfgraffito and graffitto, with a strong sense of hand, the hand-made, and an absence of any references to the material world. This work can be seen as a thorough-going critique of materialism, the machine or machine-made, and the triumph of feeling over the manufactured. For ReeL, marking is a defining characteristic of the human and the primordial act of signification and meaning for human consciousness.   

Nikki Arconi

Like an archeologist uncovering the remnants of written language ReeL creates meaning from, not just what is visible, but in what has been obscured. To understand ReeL’s work one must look at his attraction to such seemingly incongruent influences as erased whiteboards, blizzards, improvisational music, and abandoned industrial sites. His work celebrates the meaning in remnants, the hidden, the random and destroyed. Symbols and letters populate ReeL’s works with jazz-like randomness. It appears that he has taken a paragraph and expunged the structure and the keywords, leaving the viewer to create meaning and beauty from the residue.

Porch Grrls

Perhaps the strongest showing of work in this exhibition comes from Erik ReeL. His flavor of abstract painting harks back to Paul Klee, Cy Twombly, and Mark Tobey; but his mark-making technique also brings to mind California’s post-surrealist Dynaton movement of the late ’40s and early ’50s. However, it is the surface of the six acrylic paintings on paper that demands attention. At first glance the paintings seem ultra-flat, as though produced by some sort of printed technique. However, upon extremely close inspection, innumerable layers become evident, where brushstrokes have produced microscopic valleys and canyons into which the powdery pigment bleeds from ReeL’s personal hieroglyphs. Step away from the piece, and a similarly profound macro level of depth becomes evident, as these marks float at various altitudes above a background that seems infinitely far away. These six pieces and the two large canvases that accompany them are reason enough to go to see what is in total an intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable exhibition.

Nathan Vonk
from review of Out of the Great Wide Open exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara