Culling together figures and backgrounds, James Rieck's paintings are derived from advertisements and promotional materials, vintage department store catalogs, and year-end corporate reports. By cropping the subject's eyes or face, Rieck redirects the viewer's gaze to the model's body language to make sense of their unspoken expressions. Accustomed to suspending our disbelief of a model's charm, the viewer knows they're posing, but without their reassuring eyes, models’ bodies convey unconscious and hidden feelings. Just as there can be a big difference between what goes on on the outside of our body and what goes on in the inside of our heads, a model’s clothes and gestures are much like the paint on Rieck's canvases; they reflect or hide the invisible parts. The visible parts—the painted things— become the primary focus, but the unseen parts of his paintings, the parts not painted, parts of the picture cropped out, or even parts of the picture plane removed, creating shaped canvases or canvas with a hole in them, become just as important as what is painted inside the frame.
James Rieck was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1965. He earned both his BFA and his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), the latter at the Mount Royal School of Art. He also 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 Matter," curated by Shaquille O'Neal, the Flag Foundation, New York; "As Others See Us: The Contemporary Portrait," Brattleboro Museum, VT; "The Seasons," Nassau County Museum; “Baltimore Liste,” The Contemporary Museum, Baltimore MD; and at the Corcoran Museum, Washington, DC.
His work is present in the West Collection, Pennsylvania; the Burger Collection; the Bollag-Rothschild Collection, Switzerland; and the Chadha Collection, The Netherlands, among others. In 2006 Rieck won the prestigious Trawick Prize. James Rieck is currently based in Joshua Tree CA.