Ron Kroutel – Strider

by Marlene Steele

Suited man steps onto a roadway in a low level lilliputian landscape.

A nubile intrigante strides openly along a residence-obscuring hedge.

Nude male, barefoot in the waning light, apprehensively considers a dismal deserted industrial plant.

Leaps of faith and expressions of ecstasy, escapes and admonitions, reactions to the unseen and the unforeseeable, all are portrayed with visual poignancy by Ron Kroutel. This Athens, Ohio native’s current exhibition entitled “Long Moments” features figures in landscape at the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio. The scenes depicted, largely not notably landmarked, are culled from the regional elements of southwestern Ohio. The settings contribute to the pictorial equation through color scheme and by implying or obscuring the threatening condition or quotidian context to which the everyman character in street attire reacts.

Regarding his current direction, Mr. Kroutel states that in his search for subject matter, he gravitated toward historical human content. Having contributed to the conceptual and installation art scene in recent decades, Ron stated that he felt something was left unsaid and wanted to challenge his artistic abilities. “I also found that I missed color.” Figure in landscape is in his opinion the greatest challenge. For Kroutel, this classic combination opened the door to exploration of basic human emotions, heat, cold, anger, eroticism, fantasy and surprise, offering many possibilities.

Ron Kroutel – Protector

Kroutel’s process is straightforward: simply drive around southwest Ohio with a sketchbook in search of iconic settings which he sketches, then pairs, with invented everyman/everywoman figures. His use of color contributes to the emotional content and enhances the narrative though not tyrannically. These pictures are not declarative and conclusive. Interpretation is the snag that hooks the viewer and engages each individual’s capacity for vicarious experience, any disclosure of message dependent on empathy and personal experience.

Ron Kroutel – Slipped

Our conversation was punctuated with references to old and modern masters alike: Giotto, Odd Nerdrum, Balthus, Martha Mayer Erlebacher. Like the aforementioned, Kroutel is involved with a living tradition. Kroutel’s examination of seemingly common diurnal experiences arouses an empathetic connectivity, continuing the conversation with the living past with a message for the present. His straightforward painting and sketching processes do not divert the issue of the imagery. Kroutel’s simply stated compositions employ strong geometric elements in the figures as well as in geographical or architectural contexts with varying size relationships of figure to pictorial real estate. The figure/ ground value assignments, at times stark or sometimes low contrast, add to the shows visual interest.

His every day humans are alternately comfortable as contained within the perimeters of the image and at other times challenge the confines of the frame with their gestures. Consider the yellow jacketed man walking toward the Indian Mound in Marietta, Ohio and the surprised gesture of the unfortunate falling in an icy condition.

Ron Kroutel – Naked Striding Woman

I particularly enjoyed the juxtapositioning of this winter catastrophe with the neighborhood-striding nude against the rich green hedge. Given the deep freezer conditions we are all experiencing regionally, who wouldn’t be entertained by this fantasy.

“Long Moments” by Ron Kroutel
Weston Art Gallery Dec. 6, 2013 through Feb. 16th, 2014

Marlene Steele, figurative artist, paints and teaches in the Greater Cincinnati area.

One Response

  1. Marlene Steele’s review here of my exhibition at the Weston Gallery was more than a mere description of my work. A number of her interpretations and comments were particularly insightful. For example, one of her comments that could potentially help viewers approach my paintings with more understanding is related to her connecting me to the long tradition of the history of painting. This brings up all sorts of interesting questions about the nature of creativity and originality, and of how artists relate to their times and to history.

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