In this new body of work, Ratcliff has shifted his focus from the banal images of the web, and the manner in which individuals use the net to construct and disseminate their notions of self, to the use of images from nature as the source for his backgrounds and foregrounds. Ratcliff here uses nature as both image and pattern, and as both central focus and noise. In Cosmetic Surgery, Ratcliff manipulates images of water, forests, and tattooed flesh to create painting spaces rife with equal parts provocation and meditation, chaos and rigorous form.
Ratcliff’s paintings are made from elaborately complex hand-made stencils which are constructed on his computer and then printed onto standard office-grade paper. Over the course of fourteen days the stencil is cut out and painstakingly attached to the surface of a painting which is either white or black. Having chosen one color, predominantly limited to black or white, Ratcliff then sprays the picture in twenty minutes. The wet paint destroys the stencil and a great deal of bleeding occurs where the spray paint has ducked behind the paper mask.
Simultaneously recalling the paintings of both Andy Warhol and Chris Wool, Ratcliff’s works consistently negotiate the oppositions of positive and negative space, of abstraction and figuration, and of a conceptual rigor and the punk aesthetic.