Art or music:
When I was about ten my mother gave me the option of taking art or music lessons. I chose art lessons (which was very exciting to me).
I came from a family of mathematicians and scientists and until my senior year in high school assumed I would be a scientist. But when I was a senior in high school I became exposed to Abstract Expressionism (especially Rothko) and decided I wanted pursue art as a career. [Richert received his BFA from the University of Kansas, and his MFA from the University of Colorado.]
Isms and Ations:
I like most art movements, but especially Abstract Expressionism, because it offers freedom of expression while abstractly dealing with the existential issues, such as the relationship between life and death; Bay Area Figuration, because of the exploration of flatness and “facture” (the artist’s hand), relative to constructed space and light (and composition); and Minimalism, because of the elimination of all that was not absolutely essential.
All of the above inform my current art thinking—I feel the language of art-making is cumulative and all previous styles comprise the language.
Feel the harmony:
I want viewers to feel the underlying harmonies intuitively without having to understand the mathematical specifics of the systemic structure. For me, meanings reveal themselves through periods of contemplation.
Music for painting:
Add nothing. Unless:
To me systemic pattern painting was a response to Minimalism. The minimalist movement seemingly followed the principle, “Art should not include anything except that which is absolutely necessary.” The systemic patternist answered minimalism by adopting a constructive process: building out of the “tabula rasa” (nothingness). Nothing would be added unless the artwork absolutely required it. Systematically constructing from nothingness (via principles of symmetry), an essential pattern emerges.
Recognizing those patterns:
Pattern painting involves the experience of a complex body of information and relations within a unified form. It is quite possible that pattern and pattern recognition will become even more important to the acquisition of knowledge and future evolution of humanity.
All colors being equal:
I take the “politically correct” position that all colors are equal, but I am attracted to types of color relations such as “simultaneous contrast,” which between simultaneity of value and chroma produce a symmetrical “yes-no” response in the mind.
In most of my work I try to work with a figure/ground relationship in which figure and ground are equivalently fused with neither prevailing.
Keeping it open:
I do abstract work and representational—and feel both deal with important conceptual issues. But if I gravitate toward the abstract it is probably because it is more open to interpretation.
Abstract art allows for maximum individual interpretation—the viewer has to actively engage with the work (think for themselves)—as opposed to the artist telling them what to see.
Op Art, or optical art (a term having roots in the “Responsive Eye” exhibition of the 70s), perhaps misdirects meaning to the physics of perception. I feel a more appropriate term might be “mind art.”
Hard-edge painting might be seen as having eliminated non-essential information.
How you see what you see:
I feel that “non-objective painting” is an incorrect term and that all art is “objective”—contingent upon individual interpretation. A black painting, for instance, might be called non-objective (or quoting Frank Stella: “What you see is what you see”), but an individual viewer might see it as a “black void.” According to post-modern thinking, an individual has a right to interpret art without having to obey the artist’s intent.
The structure of space:
A typical painting is based upon a rectangular format having built-in “felt axes” (horizontal, vertical, and diagonal coordinates), reflecting the 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional structure of space. Grids reinforce these built-in axes and resonate with “the structure of space.”
Leaving a mark:
People often appreciate the labor-intensive aspect of my work and sometimes compare it to that which a computer might produce. My answer is that the artist’s hand—the human-made—is important to me, and that a computer does not have “facture” (evidence of the hand).
I paint for all people, but perhaps especially for people who are familiar with geometric, systemic issues, including people interested in dimensionality beyond three.
As a member of the Criss-Cross group, I discuss pattern/structural issues with peers. As an art teacher I am exposed to the diverse ideas produced by my students and feel greatly stimulated by them. [Richert teaches at the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design.]
What lies beneath:
I pretty much buy into the idea that art mirrors reality and I feel that work mirroring popular culture (such as Jeff Koons) effectively reflects an important aspect of our reality. Systemic work, on the other hand, reflects deep aspects of reality—like underlying structure.
I see myself as a feminist and feel patternistic work reflects a growing awareness of aspects of esthetics and craft traditionally associated with women.
The spectacle vs. the contemplative:
I am very appreciative of the wide range of art being produced today and feel it somewhat divides between “spectacle” and the “contemplative.” A large proportion of work produced today might be describes as “spectacle”—I find myself wanting more artists to explore quieter, contemplative ideas while dealing with today’s burning issues (however abstract—like pattern work).