Although he has explored other mediums to communicate his ideas, Ritell is primarily a painter. Experimental and playful at times Russ always pays attention to detail. Most recently his paintings combine a realistic observation of the human physical and emotional states using high contrast lighting to vividly express scenes of physical and psychological reality. This work is powerful in creating a mood, and seem to capture a dramatic, even theatrical moments in time.
“While growing up and navigating around my creative abilities, I was initially attracted to high contrast, figurative works. NC Wyeth, Howard Pyle, and Frank Frazzetta, (among many other), illustrators of classic and fantasy tales captivated me with their use of shapes, contrast and composition. I felt a real connection to master painters as well, (particularly Caravaggio and Velasquez). The atmosphere and realism that these masters captured inspired me to take my work to a higher level. Over time I experimented with these parameters.”
Ritell’s current series of oil paintings are directly influenced by the artwork of Caravaggio. In some cases he has intentionally emulated the artist’s composition & lighting by referencing and “contemporizing” the subject matter from his paintings. In Gorgon the tattooist is actually branding the subject with a Caravaggio image. The Medusa head (Gorgon) on his shoulder gives homage to the artist and acts as an “inside joke” or a direct clue referencing the original painting.
Russ has exhibited his work in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Harlem, New Jersey, the Hudson Valley, and Berlin.