On Location: Intimate New Work from James Rieck

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James Rieck has made a name for himself over the past years by drawing us in to explore his hyper-real portraits – images that at once seem like snapshots of real people and simultaneously make us questions our presumptions with their too perfect colors and tones. It’s like those moments after a convincing dream when you have to think: “did that really happen?” Now Rieck has released new works based on a recent uprooting from his long-time residence and studio in Baltimore, Maryland and his subsequent move to expansive and seemingly infinite Los Angeles, California. As he puts it, his new paintings are themed around “self-imposed dislocation.”


“One’s relationship with their environment is a critical definer of how they feel about themselves and the world,” says Rieck. “The artist’s studio is the place where artists usually feel at ease to experiment and explore. The idea behind the new body of work was to explore what a different environment does to the artist’s ‘natural’ approach. Does one’s environment affect the outcome? What happens when one consciously disrupts their ‘safe’ environment, and therefore the ‘natural’ outcome of their artwork? This is the idea for ‘On Location’ – the pursuit of dislocation or purposeful disruption to find a different result.”

Even with the distant move, Reick’s new works don’t fall too far a field from the previous work for which we admire him so much. He closely crops his subjects, bringing us in for an intimate and sometimes unnervingly close look – always at only a fraction of their figure. What does change – and certain southern California residents will see this – are the demeanors and styles of the characters he paints. You can imagine these people living in the City of Angels with its infinite possibilities and seemingly infinite locations.

Making a trek back east, Rieck has an exhibition running March 29 to April 27 at the Lyons Wier Gallery in New York. The show, On Location, celebrates his 20 th year in the art industry. You can find out more about the show here or see his excellent body of work at jamesrieck.com.

Above and below: 5 new works from James Rieck
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Below: past examples of work from James Rieck
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