Reynolds Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibition of recent paintings by Richard Roth entitled Speed Bump. The exhibition opens with a reception for the artist on Friday, January 8 and continues through February 19, 2016.
Roth’s work operates as uniquely distinct forms that are both painting and sculptural, simultaneously conceptually-based and highly formal. Inventing his forms from myriad of sources as wide-ranging as mass culture, Navajo blankets, mollusk shells or licorice candies, Roth hand-paints geometric patterns and colorful blocks on birch plywood panels. He explains, “My abstraction claims object status (as opposed to window status). It taps the expansive 3D polychrome universe – product and package design, nature, architecture, masks, custom cars, and fashion” (2015). The optical illusions he creates play with the depth of his 12 x 8 x 4 inch boxes, and altered spatial perception is as much the artist’s subject as it is the result of his compositions. Kaleidoscopic lines distort dimensionality to imply or reduce depth. Minimalist but bold, Roth’s paintings are engaging and confronting in a way;; they jut forth as mini- obstructions extending the traditional canvas. Each piece is crafted from birch plywood and either adheres to his traditional 12 x 8 x 4 inch box form or his new “blade” format, a dramatically elongated rectangle of 2 1⁄2 x 96 inches. Roth explains that confining the paintings to set dimensions allows him great freedom and the challenge to continually invent within the structure. He states, “my abstraction takes its strength from sever limitations.”
Roth’s paintings result from a multi-step process in which he conceptualizes designs by creating multiple prototypes out of wood supports. Playing with color and line, he uses tape and paint to roughly form angles and compositions, eventually capturing a final image that is then perfected in acrylic on a final piece of plywood. Former Virginia Museum of Fine Arts curator John Ravenal comments “In their vaguely familiar patterns, tendency towards simplification, and suggestion of underlying rationality, [Roth’s] painted boxes suggest harmony among fine art, craft, and popular culture. In this, they seem a cleverly belated and yet perfectly timely affirmation of the avant-garde wish for a fusion of formal beauty and the commonplace.” Roth’s paintings are wry and clever, elegant and wildly fun.
Richard Roth is a Professor Emeritus at VCU where he taught in the Painting and Printmaking department since 1999, serving as chair of the department for eight years. He received his BFA from The Cooper Union in New York and MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. He has been an active artist since 1969, constructing glass and wood paintings for over forty years. In 1993, he shifted into a conceptual creating phase, solely collecting contemporary mass media products. After twelve years, he returned to physical art-making, synthesizing his previous interests in post-painterly abstraction and conceptually-based practice into a unified body of work that bridges both.
Roth is the co-editor of the book, Beauty is Nowhere: Ethical Issues in Art and Design and co-author of Color Basics, Design Basics 3D, and Design Basics 2D and 3D. He was recently recognized in the book “100 Painters of Tomorrow,” a Thames and Hudson publication. He has received numerous awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship, the Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship, and the Ohio Arts Council Individual Artists Fellowship. His work has been exhibited internationally at Rocket Gallery, London;; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond;; the Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan;; SNO Contemporary Art Projects, Sydney, Australia;; ART in Embassies, Vatican City;; Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Ohio;; ParisCONCRET, France;; Highland Institute of Contemporary Art, Loch Ruthven, Scotland;; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. His work is in several collections, some of which include the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio;; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana;; Monroe Collection, Philip Morris USA, the VMFA, VCU School of Medicine, Martin Agency, Try-Me Collection, all, Richmond, Virginia;; and Chase Manhattan Bank, First National City Bank, Markel Corporation and New York University, all, New York, New York.