[New York] James Rieck's latest series, “Emotional Support,” addresses and celebrates the relationship between people and pets. Animals, both wild and domesticated, have been represented in art since the beginning of civilization. Globally, scenes of hunting and companionship have peppered the walls of caves and museums throughout the ages. Art has illustrated this special bond like no other.
Using Rieck’s emblematic 1960s fashion vocabulary from department store advertising, “Emotional Support” examines the complex and compelling bond between people and their pets using oversaturated hues, odd cropping, and boldly patterned backgrounds creating a familiar but altered composition. Rieck masterfully masks the figure’s identity by cropping out the viewer’s gaze and directing us to the eyes of the dog or cat for clarification.
Momentary revelry is captured in the physiognomy of frozen faces with expressions of glee. These feted moments appear conventional yet are ambiguous enough to allow the viewer the create their own dialogue as to the relationship between each subject and the pet, begging the question, “who’s supporting who and/or what?” As a pet owner himself, Rieck conveys his first-hand observations, if not fixations, people have with pets. “Emotional Support” wonderfully walks the thin line between classical and campy dialogues. And, judging by our global obsession with posting animal pictures and videos online, he is not alone in his walk.
James Rieck earned both his MFA and his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland. Rieck's paintings have been exhibited across the United States. Museum and group shows include: "We Could Be Heroes: The Mythology of Monsters and Heroes in Contemporary Art" at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, "Size Does Matters," curated by Shaquille O'Neal, the Flag Foundation, New York, "As Others See Us: The Contemporary Portrait," Brattleboro Museum, VT, and at the Corcoran Museum, Washington, DC. His work is present in the Burger Collection, the Bollag-Rothschild Collection, Switzerland, and the Chadha Collection, The Netherlands, among others. James Rieck lives and works in Los Angeles and has been represented by Lyons Wier Gallery since 2003.