“Bells” oil painting by Paul Riba (photo courtesy of Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers)
Ohio Life

Ohio Finds: “Bells” by Paul Riba

This oil-on-Masonite painting is representative of the magic realism art movement.

Ohio native Paul Riba was part of an art movement that remains largely unfamiliar. Magic realism, a style used in both artwork and literature, portrays a realistic view of the world with magical elements tossed in, subtly chipping away at the wall between reality and fantasy.

Born in Cleveland in 1912, Riba studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Cleveland Institute of Art before teaching at the latter from 1949 to 1962. The timing of Riba’s early career coincided with the rise of magic realism, which first took root in Germany in the 1920s.

Riba was among a handful of American artists who concentrated on magic realism early in the movement, and the concept helped mold who he became as an artist. Its influence was evident in Riba’s later years, prior to his death in 1977. A 1975 newspaper feature on the artist described his work as “drawn from some inner source of whimsy and mystery.”

“Bells,” an oil-on-Masonite painting, depicts various types of bells suspended from a framework against a backdrop of blue sky and clouds.

Sold at Auction: $3,875

Richard Jeffers is the owner of Garth’s Auctioneers & Appraisers in Columbus. garths.com