In 1987 Barbara Rose wrote that, “Rauschenberg, in short, is simply too much for many people. He has too much energy, he is too wide-ranging in his activities, and too ambitious in his conceptions of the role of art in the artworld. He is, above all, too unpredictable. He does not fit in with marketing strategies. He makes too much art and gives too much of it away.” Rose’s brief is also a suitable description of contemporary artist and gallerist John Riepenhoff who came to age in a vastly different cultural milieu than Rauschenberg, where engaging in a menu of wide-ranging activities is a near prerequisite to participate with weight in the artworld. What makes Riepenhoff’s breadth of pursuits unique is his transparent and diagnostic examination of his various engagements and their role in his creative process.
Group Show: A Solo Exhibition by John Riepenhoff, is a poetic examination of the influences that have shaped his thinking about painting and sculpture, art making and its systems distribution idealpolitik and community. Laura Hoptman defines today’s atemporal world as a “new economy of surplus historical references,” where “the makers take what they wish to make their point or their painting without guilt, and equally important, without an agenda based on a received meaning of style.” This too is the foundation of Riepenhoff’s work, yet he enthusiastically injects an ethical frame around the act of “taking what they wish.” He slows down and makes direct and clear attributions, citations, and homages to his influences. This accountability sheds light on both Riepenhoff’s artistic anatomy and the broader heterogeneous creative process that has always built on a sliding scale that encompasses the imaginative and the unoriginal, the intuitive and the political.
Riepenoff’s first Group Show was in 2010 at a small artist-run gallery in Milwaukee, WI called Jackpot. It offered up a developing network of artist friends, peers, and colleagues whose work began to shape Riepenhoff’s development as an artist and gallerist. For his second reiteration at Marlborough Chelsea, Riepenhoff continues to develop work that attributes the material qualities and appropriates the stylistic characteristics of his influences. The work included in this exhibition features an indebted eye toward artists Stephanie Barber, Amy Yao, Sara Luther, Peter Barrickman, Scott Reeder, Tyson Reeder, Nicholas Frank, Prince Rama, Amy Granat, Tarik Hayward, Tobias Madison and Kasper Müller, and Simon Nolan as well as works inspired and adapted from his father, Bob Riepenhoff and John Chamberlain. Other works will include examples of Riepenhoff’s foray into generosity and comestibles. The opening will also feature samples of his Every Bean Chili, Double Cream Colby and the multiple varieties of beer comprising his Beer Endowment enterprise.
Barbara Rose, “An Interview with Robert Rauschenberg,” (New York: Vintage Books, 1987), p. 5-6.
Laura Hoptman, The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2015), p. 15.