Rick Wedel - "Domestic Composition No. 1"

Rick Wedel, (Michigan 1968 – Present), Domestic Composition No. 1
(1998), 28″ x 22″, Oil on Masonite.
“Choosing a predominantly cool palette, Wedel has produced a view of silent everyday life, beneath which tension and anxiety lie...”
That brief artist’s description accurately and elegantly describes this thought provoking abstract-figurative work by Michigan artist Rick Wedel. Executed in oil on the rough side of a Masonite canvas, Wedel depicts the underlying tension and daily monotony that can erode and eventually destroy a relationship if we so carelessly allow it to happen.

This allegorical work portrays the human condition in a literal sense by showing us a modern but timeless scene with a disillusioned husband in the foreground and his equally disillusioned wife bent over the stove behind him. The child in the background (in the high chair) appears to be quietly observing his apathetic parents. I feel sorrow for this young family as it seems to be headed for a terminal state for which it can’t recover. The emotion is already deep rooted and inescapable. They are as detached from each other as the melancholy couple depicted in Edward Hopper’s “Room in New York.” A different time period, but no less tragic.

I love the drama of the message and how Wedel’s artistic expression draws me further into his work to explore its intimate details. It made me think about the cause of the ambivalence, and how it relates to the ease of acquiring immediate satisfaction through the internet. The net is often touted as the ultimate interactive experience, but it just doesn’t substitute for a living dialog about living life. There are tragedies that punctuate our lives, and there is often a silent anxiety that surrounds our daily existence (better known as a “rut”). That may be the only message Wedel is portraying here, but I think there’s more.

I’ve been accused of going beyond the interpretation, but the purpose of art is to tell a story (most of the time) and where it ends is up depends on the viewer. That’s part of the enjoyment of owning original art and it’s how I define “living with art.” Very few works of art come with instructions on how to look at it. That’s always been left to the aesthetic sense which seems to come in time. Just like developing a taste for wine lead to my appreciation for the dryer styles, art had a similar effect in that while those beautiful and serene landscape vistas that hang in museums around the world are pure eye candy, I find people oriented art much more satisfying. That’s why Wedel’s art ‘works’ for me. I particularly like one of his ‘artist’s statements’ describing his style:
“Hard wired in each of us are the mechanisms giving unique importance to the figurative form. It’s visual gravity is so strong that even in very generalized and abstracted versions, it has a strong influence. I’m relying on the figure in these compositions to offer solidity and calm to otherwise chaotic and unrealistic surfaces.”
When I read this part of his bio I knew we had some common ground to explore:
Rick often opts for texture over detail to achieve the forms in his works. “I enjoy creating anonymous figures because it encourages interpretation, and brings a sense of the infinite. To me, concealing the identity of figures and environments is an invitation to the viewer. That the viewer brings something to the work that makes it personal for them is important to me. Art becomes memorable when people make their own connections with it. In my work I have sought to make these associations possible by creating starting points. Each viewer then goes their own way.”
You can read his full bio here.

I love the moody palette and how he accents relationships with contrasting colors (orange outlining the man and woman). Wedel painted this work on the rough side of Masonite creating an intense texture and emotion which can only be appreciated in person. It currently sits in a cheesy, blue colored wooden frame I bought from Aaron Brothers just for the sake of hanging until I can find or make a frame that will do it justice (another enjoyable facet of collecting art we’ll talk about later).

The only criticism about this work I can find is a personal preference; I think a wailing kid might have been more appropriate in the scene to add more continuity to the overall tension. But I like it a lot as it is.

Stop on by Rick Wedel’s site and have a look at his unique style.



  1. I am truly moved by this exemplary work. This oil painting displays a great compusure of color. It depicts the modern world as a whole.

  2. This painting style is very rarely seen nowadays. Rick has really done a good job especially while choosing colors. It really brings out something good for all of us.