The Puppeteer

the puppeteer30″ x 40″, Acrylic on canvas, 2004      (Collection of the Artist)

Not only must the average young man compete for female attention with imaginary suitors from the past, he must also contend with men whose mythic proportions have been sculpted in the present. In “The Puppeteer” Riel looks at the cult of celebrity male bodybuilders and their vain pursuit of physical perfection. The fact that his female friends are impressed with these specimens of male pulchritude confirms his worst fears. Once more, he faults the mainstream media – here personified by The Best Man as a grand master puppeteer – for manipulating the minds of the general public, instilling in men a dissatisfaction with self-image, and in women a questionable appreciation for the reconfigured male physique. For Riel, the shallowness and gullibility are galling. After all, a well-toned body comes with no guarantee of happiness. It is no match for the sharp and sensitive mind of an artist and poet. But that is a hard case to make in today’s image-conscious world. – ALLAN J. RYAN, Riel Benn’s “Best Man”: An Unlikely Successor to Iktomi’s Trickster Legacy, AMERICAN INDIAN ART MAGAZINE. SPRING 2010.

The alternate version of “The Puppeteer” is that of a skinny scrawny clown poking fun at male physique which women find so attractive. Riel gaining strength and lacking beauty as a young man, but in the end laughing it off.” – The Best Man Engagements

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