The Paintings of Owen Rival
Born in 1999 in Toronto, Owen Rival is a Canadian painter known for his highly contrasted and saturated everyday scenes. After studying both design and painting, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Illustration at Providence’s Rhode Island School of Design in 2021. Rival is a recipient of the New York Academy of Art Summer Residency and the Dumfries House Artist Residency, a program delivered by Scotland’s Royal Drawing School and the Glasgow School of Art. He is also a member of the Society of Illustrators, a New York City-based professional society that promotes the art and history of illustration through exhibitions and competitions.
Through his work, Rival examines the seemingly mundane episodes of existence which include such monotonous chores as grocery shopping, washing clothes and brushing one’s teeth. Presented through the perspective of an observer, his paintings amplify these daily routines and transforms them into historic events. Married and now living as a couple with his wife and art collaborator Jenny, Rival paints scenes of domestic life that examine both the solitary moments and the interactions that occur in their Houston, Texas apartment.
Owen Rival’s paintings slowly evolve through an extensive work process: creating thumbnail sketches of a proposed scene, staging the scene, shooting photographs for foreground and background references, and lastly the gradual layering of color onto each drawn form on the canvas. His work is characterized by its strong lighting effects and visually complex compositions. Rival’s use of different colored LED lighting in the staged settings provides optional color highlights for the proposed work.
Rival pays particular interest in the color combinations for his work and often uses an inversion of traditional color associations to add both depth and complexity to the paintings. Instead of a realistic color palette, he chooses vibrant and contrasting tones to highlight important elements in the work and to amplify its mood, either conveying a sense of calm or injecting tension and stress.
In 2017 and 2018, Rival exhibited his paintings in group exhibitions held at Providence’s Waterman Building, the first permanent home of the Rhode Island School of Design and its first museum location. He exhibited his work in 2019 at the New York Academy of Art and, in the following year, at “The Color of My Land” exhibition at the RISD Museum Gelman Gallery.
Rival presented five new medium and large scale works at his first solo exhibition, “Chronic Maintenance”, in April and May of 2023 at the Monti8 Gallery in Latina, Italy. He had his first New York solo exhibition entitled “Long View” in May and June of 2023 at the Harkawik, Gallery 2 on Orchard Street in Manhattan. The show consisted of five acrylic paintings and four works on paper depicting domestic scenes at the Houston apartment.
Notes: Images of Owen Rival’s work, contact information, and social media sites can be found on his website located at: https://www.owenrival.com
The creative art site It’s Nice That has an article on Owen Rival’s life and paintings written by Olivia Hingley for its July 2022 posting. It can be found at: https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/owen-rival-art-180722#:~:text=Gifted%20with%20a%20clear%20perception,relatability%2C%20and%20striking%20visual%20complexity
The Harkawik Gallery is a contemporary art gallery with two locations, Orchard Street in New York and Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. The gallery’s website can be found at: https://www.harkawik.com
Top Insert Image: Owen Rival, “Groceries”, 2022, Acrylic on Canvas, 91.4 x 61 x 10.2 cm, Private Collection
Bottom Insert Image: Owen Rival, “Toronto”, 2021, Acrylic on Canvas, 60.1 x 76.2 cm, Private Collection