Johansson Projects presents Running Wild, a solo exhibition featuring new work by Gregory Rick. The exhibition opens April 7 and will run through May 27, 2023. Click on @johansson_projects profile on Instagram to view the recorded artist walkthrough
Gregory Rick is a history painter for the 21st century, transforming past and current events into allegorical meditations on paper and canvas. Contrasting the genre artists of the Age of Enlightenment who depicted idealized scenes from historical events, Rick eschews the strictures of realism with cacophonous compositions of bodies and objects tangled together in unreal assemblages that poetically analyze different scenes in the history of empires. Running Wild at Johansson Projects presents new work in Rick’s ongoing painterly examination of American Imperialism and the aesthetics of violence.
In Light Brigade and El Alamein, Rick uses historical battles to deconstruct the imperial glorification of war and to expose the white supremacist, capitalist exploitation of Africa by Western powers. These representations of history provide a ground for confronting contemporary American imperialism and accompanying domestic fascism. While works such as Protest, Pile of Po and Op, Po do not illustrate specific events, they capture the hierarchical violence of state sponsored class exploitation symbolized by the police. This is particularly clear in Protest, which depicts two militarized police officers with weapons of war converging on protestors either unarmed or with the proletarian weapons of clubs and molotov cocktails. Figures appear as gestural outlines over blocks of color, as they often do in Rick’s work, while splatters, drips, and stains of black become like blood, obscuring the details in bodies and faces. This language of painting converges on a broader aesthetics of violence, which provides Rick with a framework for analyzing both history and contemporary imperialist propaganda.
While we tend to think of history as fixed, defined by indisputable evidence collected in archives, it is in fact malleable, shaped by ideologies past and present. This mythological dimension to history enters Rick’s work through personified animals, as in Book Burners 2, and borrowed symbols and designs from Ancient Egypt, as in The Birth. In Before the Fall, a massive tiger takes down a man with a very Trumpian look wearing an SS armband. While there is a kind of hope in the victory of the tiger over the nazi, symbolizing the failure of American fascism, there is also an ambiguity brought by the title—afterall, Hitler’s first coup attempt failed; what will precipitate the fall of the United States? Somewhere between an esoteric political cartoon and a mythology, in USA our nation is depicted as a monstrous humanoid figure with blood stained claws for hands and a fleshy, neck-less mound of a head, smiling maliciously through pointed teeth. Straddling a fallen man and raising its hand to attack another, the US-beast embodies violence, forcing the viewer to reckon with past and present as a unified entity. Painting from within the American Empire, having participated in the War on Terror, Rick’s representations convey the same truths that we find in myth, truths not about facts or events but that lead us to contemplate the human condition and our place within history.
Running Wild runs from April 7 – May 27, 2023. There will be an artist walkthrough of the exhibition on Friday, April 7 at 5pm. Reception following until 8pm.
For all inquiries, contact Johansson Projects at 510-444-9140 or firstname.lastname@example.org Click on @johansson_projects profile on Instagram to view live
Gregory Rick War and Peace | Spring 2023 by Alex Nicholson for Juxtapoz
“Art might not be some magical place where all the world’s problems disappear but maybe it can be a safe place to exist with them. And perhaps that’s what we feel when we take notice of a piece of art: a shared sense of existence. It’s as Rick describes, ‘a certain…rhythm.’ ” LINK
5 SECA artists at SFMOMA show the vivid present and promising future of Bay Area art | March 8, 2023 by Tony Bravo for SF Datebook
“I wanted to have each one of these paintings or narratives be a chapter. I had it starting out with thinking about my life as my autobiography, and in what ways does that connect to larger themes? That was the guiding force. I feel like they gave me the space for the rhythm of the paintings to work and to be able to step into the paintings. In my work, I tell stories.” LINK
Gregory Rick Highlights SFMOMA’s 2022 SECA Art Award Exhibition | December 13, 2022 by Evan Pricco for Juxtapoz
“The 2022 winners, Binta Ayofemi, Maria Guzmán Capron, Cathy Lu, Marcel Pardo Ariza (a Juxtapoz alum), and Gregory Rick are each on their own, fascinating creatives, with Rick being one of the most exciting painters our editors have seen come from the Bay in recent years.” LINK
Gregory Rick’s “Party at Megiddo” @ BEYOND THE STREETS, Los Angeles | November 4, 2022 Juxtapoz
“I’m painting on a shaky historical line cemented in humility and conviction. I occupy my pictures with characters who serve as archetypes in conjunction with memory and self-exploration reflecting on the absurdness and monumentality of history,” Rick shares. LINK
LIFE ACCORDING TO ARTIST GREGORY WILLIAM RICK | 2022 by Luis Ruano |
“There’s a stillness that happens when I’m making something that I’m addicted to, when everything else just falls away,” LINK
Gregory Rick: From the Rat Hole to Grey Skull | November 1, 2022 by Mark Taylor for SF/Arts
“SECA Award-winner (2022) Gregory Rick’s solo show features a wide variety of works on paper, including “Long Summer,” a fold-out artist book that becomes a mini-mural of multicolored creatures sprawling across a crowded landscape.” LINK
3 Bay Area visual artists win 2022 Artadia Awards: ‘I’m honored and a little bit in shock’ | July 6, 2022 by Joshua Kosman for SF Chronicle Datebook
Rick’s vividly representational collages, paintings and sculpture draw on his turbulent personal history, including his stint fighting in the Iraq War. LINK
5 Bay Area artists named 2022 winer for prestigious SECA Award | May 3, 2022 by Aidin Vaziri
“The winners are multidisciplinary artist Binta Ayofemi, visual artists Maria Guzmán Capron and Marcel Pardo Ariza, ceramics-based artist Cathy Lu, and painter Gregory Rick. An exhibition of their work is scheduled at the museum from Dec. 17 to May 29, 2023. It will be organized by Andrea Nitsche-Krupp, SFMOMA’s assistant curator of media arts, and Jovanna Venegas, assistant curator of contemporary art.” LINK
Gregory Rick’s “Forgiveness” | January 26, 2022 by Eric Minh Swenson for EMS Legacy Films
Film series covering artists and exhibitions, featuring Rick’s driving force for creation of his recent works and the connections between trauma, chaos and explanation of natural disasters through the personal and collective experience. LINK
Gregory Rick was born in 1981 and grew up in South Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received his BFA from California College of the Arts in 2019 and graduated from Stanford University with an MFA in Art Practice in 2022. Developing a historical imagination and fondness for drawing stories, Rick collapses history while confronting personal trauma. His works exist as reflections of his personal experience, while in dialogue with the wider world. Rick has received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Yamaguchi printmaking award, the Nathan Oliviera fellowship, the Jack K. and Gertrude Murphy Award (2021), the Artadia Award (2022). He has exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States including Rochester Art Center in Rochester, MN (2021), Beyond The Streets Gallery in Los Angeles, CA (2022), Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco, CA (2022), Hair and Nails Gallery in Minneapolis, MN (2021), and Truman State University in (2022). He is a recipient of the distinguished 2022 SECA Art Award, and is currently showing at SFMOMA and Johansson Projects. Rick lives with his wife and daughters in Oakland, California.
Developing a historical imagination and fondness for drawing stories, Gregory Rick’s cathartic mark-making process collapses history while confronting personal trauma. His works reflect episodes of individual experience while in dialogue with the wider world, touching deeply on the political nature of oppressive systems. Inspired by a youth fascination with graffiti, Rick’s blatant narratives convey symbolism and cryptic language that capture the recklessness and hysteria of present-day America. He paints on a shaky historical line cemented in humility and conviction, and populates his pictures with “characters who serve as archetypes,” in conjunction with memory and self-exploration.