Boo Ritson: Still Alive

Boo Ritson (born 1969) is an artist based in Chesham.
Ritson was born in Surrey, United Kingdom. She received her BA in 2002 from Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and her MA in 2005 from the Royal College of Art.
Boo Ritson trained as a sculptor but in recent years her practice has developed to include painting. In her most widely known series of work, Ritson coated the heads and shoulders of living people with household emulsion to transform them into new characters who are captured in large-scale photographic prints. Ritson’s images question whether it is the act of painting or subsequent documentation which is the most important stage. Ritson’s work is not simply photography or even painting as it incorporates elements of sculpture and performance alongside, but in a way that is ultimately hidden from the gallery visitor. Boo Ritson literally paints her subjects as American stereotypes coating them in a thick lacquer of glossy paint and takes photographs before the wet emulsion dries. The result  – a fusion of sculpture, painting, performance and photography.
She has exhibited at galleries such as David Risley Gallery in London, Mark Moore in Los Angeles, United States and Chapter Gallery in Cardiff. She is represented by David Risley in London.
London photographer, Boo Riston, works in a way that combines sculpture, painting, photography, and well, bodies. Trained and educated as a sculptor, Boo considers herself an artist who uses photography to attain her desired result. After feeling confined by just making sculpture, she began painting her work and herself as a way to incorporate a different medium. It doesn’t seem to matter if she or someone else actually takes the photograph, as it’s the process that interests her.
Boo Ritson paints people, but not on canvas or on board – she literally coats people with paint. Presented as photographs, Ritson’s portraits are a double masquerade: her subjects coated in sticky disguise, and the documentary image a surrogate representation of the tangible painterly, sculptural, and performative qualities of work. By using photography Ritson capitalises on the associations of snapshot memory and filmic narrative, with each of her characters playing out readily recognisable stereotypes.
Bathed beneath the gooeyness of common household paint, Ritson’s subjects are transformed into athletes, cowgirls, and slot-jockeys. Highlighting the malleability of identity, Ritson’s impostors are rendered oddly totemic as the dripping contours of their wet ‘skins’ create a statuesque effect that’s equally stoically chiselled and insincerely plastic. Balancing between social masks and suffocating veneers, Ritson’s painted effigies stand as psychological animi; a sentiment epitomised in Godfather, where the eyes of her living model are exposed, giving a jarring humility to his hard man mafioso exterior.”( by aline smithson 2011).

AUTHOR: Aline Smithson