Rick Prol's work was first celebrated in the early 1980's in New York’s East Village. Edward Leffingwell called him a "Master of Gothic angst". Prol brought the seeds of his interests in a wide range of subjects and art forms-- from Shakespeare's Macbeth to Flamenco music, Martha Graham and Goya-- to take root in that era's fertile and fetid punk soil.
"A sleeping resting figure, cars piled up or with a witch driving, a woman on a bike, a cat-o-puss on a bike that has a slippery identity, sunsets, trees along a hill sloping downwards, a hill with a line of trees, pirate ships, interiors with floating metaphysical objects that obey no laws of gravity or spatial coherence in terms of the scale of objects depicted, one shot subjects that are not in a series, the man with knives and a floppy hat in a room or elsewhere. Starry skies with hills and different objects on the ground, Nosferatu in a room with bikes or other objects, a "Cat-O-Puss" with the World Trade Center aflame in his bike's basket. The Cat-O- Puss again in a room with a woman that is a kind of composite portrait."
The works span some 35 years.
"I could say that I employ certain protagonists used symbolically and metaphorically, which are akin to poems with a disjunctive narrative quality which are like stories without a plot."
"I am attracted to certain things in the real world, from my subconscious, from dreams, Art History and contemporary artists. I incorporate objects from the real world- buckets, doors, broken windows, dirt and all kinds of found material. I boil it down to an essence that approximates my feelings. My vision is Dystopian and absurdist. My attacks and defenses are abstract in that there are no good guys or bad guys, only victims and victimizers and the innocent. I am Not making an overtly political statement because that would dull their potency. I paint from a place of utter calm as my process dictates. I do Not feel anything as I work. Only the formal elements of the work engage me and I am present and alert so as to be able to capture what is already there in me and not try and- paint it. There is no catharsis. I always pick up from where I was. I can travel back in time and take from my own work what I may need today. My own history is a source of images that I draw on occasionally. I try to make new what was there from the start, from a long time ago, all the way back to my childhood. In my childhood some things resonated very powerfully and they have found there expression in my art now. I didn't know why they did like a certain color green I saw one day in Chinatown at night which struck me so profoundly that I never forgot it. I use that green now."
Prol's work is in many private and public collections including the Smithsonian Libraries Collection, Hirschhorm Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Larry Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT Contemporary Museum of Art, Chicago, Holocaust Museum, Washington DC, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Museum of Modern Art, NYC and the Guggenheim Museum. A Retrospective of Rick Prol's work was featured at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in 2012.