Rick Prol, a New York City native, came from a creative family; his father was a classical guitarist and his mother was a flamenco dancer and aspiring actress. His creative talents were first recognized during early childhood.
The artist was greatly influenced by his brother, who painted and assembled toy models, and his father, who - prior to becoming a classical guitarist - also painted.
Prol would copy his father's work, Picasso's art and the work of Charles Addams, a cartoonist famous for his dark and humorous characters.
Prol's father recognized the artist's ability to re-create artworks in a sophisticated manner and enouraged him to pursue a career as a painter.
Like many adolescents, Prol rebelled against his father's prescribed path and pursued ballet and music rather than painting. He doubted if the life of a painter was the correct career choice for him.
In 1976, Prol attended Cooper Union, which changed everything for him. During this time, he began his journey into the art world and dabbled in many different types of media.
He was inspired by his professors and the students but, most importantly, by punk music. Punk music played a crucial role in the development of Prol's style.
With the punk revolution coming to America, it revitalized rebellion from the beginning and kicked the legs out from under the establishment. Prol quoted Public Image Ltd.'s "Rise," "anger is an energy" and with this, the attitude of "anything is possible" surfaced. He drew much of his inspiration from bands like the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Elvis Costello.
Having already established a name for himself, Prol began running into another East Village icon, Jean-Michel Basquiat. They would periodically see each other around the East Village and at different art openings. Prol recalled shortly after their initial meeting, Basquait would call him out of the blue and the first time, Prol was in disbelief about who was calling him.
Prol stated they had a distant kindred admiration for each other and the work each was producing. The relationship between Prol and Basquait was unusual because of the competitiveness of the art scene. Following the death of Andy Warhol in 1987, Prol was asked to assist Basquait with his next show because of the devastation this had on Basquait.
During this time, Prol stated it was nice to get to know him; however, there were times he wanted to leave but he stuck it out. There were times Prol would arrive at Basquiat's studio and Basquiat would say "No work today," but Prol persisted and did what he could to help encourage him to get work done. Finally, when the show was finished, Prol did not hear from him for a few months until news of his death circulated.
Prol's work often has been compared to Basquait's because of the brief period of assisting him finish what would be his last show.
Prol's response to this was that he did not invent anything on Basquait's paintings; he only did what he was told to do. If too much of his personality showed in the painting, Basquait would have him fix it. While there were tonal similarities between their works, each had his own unique voice. About four years after the death of Basquiat, his work was shown at the Whiney Museum of American Art. Many people thought Prol attempted to create fake Basquiat paintings, but that was not true.
Much of the inspiration for Prol's work stems from general childhood trauma. Cartoons were the language he wanted to use to convey his organic, personal experiences about life.
He pulls from the urban realities of city life; brutality, authoritarian relationships, decay and destruction of the world around him, and more recently the Occupy Wall Street movement.
When asked about his experience working with the Grey Art Gallery, he had nothing but positive things to say. He has had a great experience working with Casey Gleghorn and the gallery.
He appreciates the open attitude of the owners and the fact that they are young and ambitious. He likes the exposure he gets from the gallery because of their promotion of his work.
Prol will be premiering new work at the Grey Art Gallery's "Weegee" show in April. During this show, Prol will be feature a pterodactyl with a 40-foot wing span, dragging outdated electronics behind it.
The installation was a collaboration between Prol, Larissa Killough and Fred Stesney. It was created with found objects that come together in a unique fashion.
The show will open at 6 p.m. April 5 and will be on display until the end of the month.