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Solo Exhibition   
April 2-12, 2024  
Opening Reception  
Thursday, April 4, 6-9pm  

Meet the Artist at Opening Reception

Artist Talk at 8:00pm   

Friend and colleague, Professor Cezar M. Ornatowski of San Diego State University has written about John Ratajkowski’s portraits, “One of the key aspects of John Ratajkowski’s work over the years, whether in painting, collage, or mixed media, has been fascination with the crossing and mixing of materials, surface, and textures, and exploration of their potential for expression.  In “About Face”, this exhibition at the Dacia Gallery, experimentation with materials and technique intersects with portraiture in order to push portraiture past photographic images into an expression of the artist’s feelings about relationships with people, and ultimately, toward an exploration of, the artist’s, and our own complex and fragile identities. The faces in “About Face” belong to people the artist has come to know intimately and/or has been intrigued by. But not exactly “belong.” They belong to the artist, too.  The portraits do not aim at rendering exact likeness, although all are immediately recognizable. Each is an expression of a relationship between the painter and the painted. The portraits attempt to capture people in their individual, unsettled, and often, painful complexity, as the artist sees them holding themselves together while they hold themselves up in the face of the world, the artist, or before themselves.  Each is a personal expression of the artist’s connection to and sense of the person: this is how I see Deidre and Sean. The face in the “portrait’ becomes thus as much a function of the artist’s relationship to the subject of the “face” the subject dons in the face of the world. Each portrait is also a self-portrait, telling as much about the painter as about the painted. In each of the subjects there is something the artist likes, even loves, and something he does not like, or at least questions.  It is this dynamic tension, the drama of self-in-relationship - a relationship that is itself ambiguous, often torn between love, doubt, and even aversion - that the portraits in ‘About Face’ try to express.  Hence the ambiguity implicit in the title: ‘About Face’ turns on itself, raising complex questions about face, identity, and relationships, attempting to peel back and peel under layers of dissimulation and (self) deception. Painting people, Ratajkowski believes, is a way of talking to them and about them. Looking at Ratajkowski’s masterful portraits, we are here invited to listen in on those conversations.”

An art educator for over four decades in North County, San Diego, John became a legendary figure in the art experience of thousands of students. Even as he grew up in San Diego, key to his work has always been travel: the need to absorb the influences of different locales paired with his fascination with material and technique shows itself in all aspects of his life. He restored a centuries-old finca in Sant Joan, and when nearly forty years ago, he arrived to West Cork, Ireland, he made a home in Bantry, where he currently resides several months every year. Ratajkowski has been a resident artist at Dom Polonia, Poland's National Arts Council; a recipient of the California Arts Council Fellowship; a winner of a California Council for the Humanities grant, an invited artist at Bulgaria's Triennial in Sofia. He was awarded a two-year sabbatical to paint in rural southwestern Ireland. His work is included in numerous private and public collections.  


To add an artowrk to your collection please contact Dacia Gallery at 917-727-9383 or e-mail us at info@daciagallery.com  
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