In Ryan Mrozowski's paintings strange and mysterious events appear to be in progress. Crowds of a few or many gather around some central activity. In Presentation, a crowd forms beneath the dark edges of a row of dimly lit buildings to bear witness to a violinist, a pianist, a group of choral singers. Two men standing atop a piano, dressed in what could be lab coats, have put down their scores to observe a central suited figure looking over his shoulder at a flock of birds descending toward him. Two cameramen record the events. Toward the outer edge of the group of onlookers, the scene dims ominously. In another painting, Pulled from the River, an astronaut is being pulled from the water by a group of people, while along the riverbank others play brass instruments. This painting suggests ideas about rebirth and failed attempts at discovery.
Many of Mrozowski’s paintings involve what appears to be a stage or a place of performance. Figures either participate in or observe the central activity. Often one or more figures stand atop stilts, a ladder, or an object like a piano. These figures appear to be officiating, judging, or studying the scene before them and suggest man’s futile attempt to be enlightened. These elements can also be stand-ins for the stage from which people orate, judge, or perform.
In my paintings I depict crowds of figures gathered in the pursuit of knowledge and entertainment. My work is about the effort to understand our world through the various lenses of history, spirituality, science, music, horror films, consumerism, video games, theater productions, sports, literature, etc.
Above all I am interested in a life lived vicariously. (Mrozowski, 2007)
—Los Angeles Times, Leah Ollman. November 14, 2008
Things occur just beyond the scope of logic or in quantities that crowd out reason. There is no security in numbers, only a compounded curiousness.
Realities collapse in tableau after tableau. The carnivalesque meets the athletic, which collides with the academic. Gravity competes against the absurd.