Dienzo opens a black-lined eye onto an unsettling world populated by odd adolescents who clutch snarling teddy bears and paint with vats of red liquid. Dienzo uses an inky, illustrated style with small elements scattered through his vignettes and framing his individualist offspring. There is something disquieting about these outcasts caught in the middle of their everyday lives. They're not the sort of kids your parents would want you to play with.
Like many artists, Dienzo's paintings in the lowbrow, or pop surreal style was spawned in the Los Angeles underground art scene. Shunned by mainstream industry, this unique segment of the art world has emerged from the viscous, black ink pools of Burbank and oozed through the rigid framework of Hollywood to become a cult sect. A member cast out by the animation establishment, Dienzo's warped view has been shaped by toiling in some of the industry's darkest dungeons and suffering through marketing meetings for the trade's toy titans.
His first group of characters to hit the art scene are sure to find kindred spirits among the disenfranchised. "I'll start with a feeling or a mood first and let the characters appear. Their environments are usually stark and barren, with an odd sense of scale, but there's some component that draws you in. Since they are children, the scale and proportions are out of whack. They look cute, but you're not sure how close you really want to get to them."
In the portrait Timmy Painting a grimacing little boy in a black and white striped shirt holds a dripping red paintbrush in front of a blank canvas. "Timmy likes to paint, but he only uses red. We've caught him beginning a painting and we're not sure if that's how he always looks or if he's irritated at being interrupted. The scale of the painting is left up to interpretation. For example, behind Timmy there is a white container. We're not sure if it is a paper cup of ketchup, a bucket of paint -- or a vat of blood."
Violet Smiling unlocks a gothic wrought iron gate on a pale little girl with purple eyes and dagger-straight black hair. She stands on the parched landscape of a dry creek bed near a cold cement bench. In the distance stands a barren tree and a grave marker. It is unclear if the grave marker is an angel, or something more sinister unfolding its dark wings. She faces us holding her snarling plush bear and pulls back part of her mouth, taking a stab at a smile.
The oxblood curtains part on Sebastian Performing to reveal a thin figure with stringy black hair holding a violin. "I liked the idea of something with music. I tried to think of some of the less popular instruments children are forced to play and thought of the violin. Sebastian owes his name to Johan Sebastian Bach. The music notes in the bottom of his frame are from Sonata Number 1 for Violin."
Next, we come to the unfortunate story of Gustav Sensing. His is like many cursed individuals who are haplessly unaware of their environment and sometimes die in ridiculous ways. Just moments before, Gustav was engrossed in devouring his candy. But now a monster emerges from the dark street grate, just as wretched Gustav begins to sense something is wrong.
"I like to leave content of the images open to interpretation, so viewers have the opportunity to make up their own story about what my characters will be doing next."
A blend of product development with a warped edge and fine art illustration, Dienzo's art can easily be imagined as a set of limited-edition toys or on cutting-edge apparel.
With a BA in graphic design and a Masters in business administration and a seasoned warrior of the commercial art world, Dienzo applies his business and marketing knowledge to an exciting, yet under appreciated art field. Dienzo's alter ego is named Rick Blanco, he is currently serving as creative director of product development for Cartoon Network in Burbank, where he continues to explore the blurred boundaries between commercial and fine art.