“Jim Richard,” ArtNews

Jim Richard

Arthur Roger
by John R. Kemp, ARTNEWS

Centered III, 2008

As in his earlier work, Jim Richard continues to explore American culture through the private environments people create.

For the images in this show, he photographed rooms and then digitally rearranged their contents. The satirical, sometimes cartoonish paintings that result offered portraits of garnish spaces, uninhabited and seemingly inaccessible.

In Centered III (2008), the viewer’s focus is drawn first to what appear to be stacked white cartons in the center of the room. It quickly shifts to a stone-block wall and then bounces from drawings to pieces of furniture in colors that range from dark and cool to light and hot. Richard’s meticulous paintings deprive their visual powers from contrasting shapes and textures and color juxtapositions from opposite sides of the color wheel.

Richard uses similar techniques in the two large surreal paintings-within-paintings, Around the Bend and Over the Dunes (both 2008). In these, the backgrounds adapted from the works the artist had seen in friends’ homes are oddly colored landscapes with the topographies reduces to almost geometric forms. In the center of each painting, apparently floating in midair, is a stretched canvas set at an oblique angle so that it its image is barely discernable. The first work depicts a woman in a fancy gown hovering over a glassy cove surrounded by pink mountains; the second presents some type of mechanical device hovering over dunes in shades of blue. Richard’s paintings may be commentaries on taste, but their real strength lies in the artist’s mastery of perspective, color, and composition.