The Political and Iconic Power of Architecture








painting by Daniel Rich




painting by Daniel Rich








"Systematic Anarchy" Daniel Rich exhibition at Peter Blum Galler










The Political and Iconic Power of Architecture

Daniel Rich



Who influences you graphically?

I have a background in printmaking, which in part led me to my graphic, hard edge style of painting and the appropriation of photographs. Early influences include the graphic language of schematics and architectural engravings as well as world and architectural history as it is transcribed in the built environment. I have a fondness for Giorgio de Chirico, Rene Magritte, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and Thomas Demand amongst many others.

How do you choose your subject matter?

I am interested in the highly symbolic role architecture plays in politics and its power to function as an icon of our lived experience, a portrait of an existential phenomenology whose features manifest where society is at one particular moment in history. I collect and appropriate photographs I find on the Internet and in newspapers, in response to radio and television broadcasts, and through research and reading.

Most of your work is centered around the city, in large and its details. How could‘Amazon books’ chaotic but systematic representation be a metaphor for the urban context, which surrounds us?

My paintings point to the shifting of the significance and meaning in both images of places and the places themselves. Amazon Books was made in response to the ever increasing power of collected consumer data. Amazon began with books and grew its business into online retail on a massive scale through the use of technology. The rows of shelves depicted in Amazon Books may reference large housing blocks, city neighborhoods and sections, order/ disorder, cohesion/ division and chaos within a controlled platform.

What does your choice of palette derive from? Is it the way you read and associate to the subject matter or is it more influenced by the light or the textures/materials? (Foxconn Shenzhen, 2012)

Both- color choices for my paintings are often intuitive. I work on the images I find in Photoshop-thereby allowing the image to dictate cropping, a change in color balance, and levels of saturation for example. But the actual physicality of the structure I am painting also informs the use of color and texture. The mediated image is painted in order to invest the picture with the capability to function as a signifier and to evoke meaning and discourse. Color is an important tool in that mediation.

What role does repetition mean for you, terms of the smallest detail or wider building vs city relationship?

I often have a love/ hate relationship with repetition as many of the subjects I paint seem to have a lot of windows and other small details that result in a lot of repetitive work when cutting my stencils. But joking aside, it’s the details that attract me to an image- be they the symbolic use of traditional patterns in architecture and political propaganda or the many windows on the facades of housing blocks. We are overwhelmed daily by the repetition of images and information and it is my project as an artist to call specific attention to meaning imbedded in images and to offer a closer look.


Daniel Rich was born in Ulm, Germany in 1977 and moved to the United States in 1996. He received his BFA from The Atlanta College of Art and an MFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University. Rich attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and has been the recipient of the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Studio Grant and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant for Painting. Rich’s most recent exhibitions include a solo exhibition, Systematic Anarchy at Peter Blum Gallery and the group exhibition Résonance(s) at the Maison Particuliere in Brussels. Rich had his first one-person museum exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 2012. He has exhibited his work at The Maramotti Collection in Reggio Emilia, Italy, at Mario Diacono Gallery in Boston and in New York at Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, and Horton Gallery. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

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