John Riepenhoff
Naked Eye
20.04.2023 – 03.06.2023

LA MAISON DE RENDEZ-VOUS is pleased to present new paintings by Milwaukee-based artist John Riepenhoff. Naked Eye is Riepenhoff’s first solo exhibition in Belgium and presents paintings from his en plein air series “Skies”.

Does the romance of landscape painting rest on the masterful representation of the world outside the window? Is it the precise representation, or the sustenance of the aura of the actual that makes landscape paintings so compelling? John Riepenhoff deliberately sabotages any promise of mastery in Naked Eye by exclusively addressing his subject at night. These are paintings essayed in the dark. Any aura therefore emanates from the process and not the representation. We meet the time of darkness more than the space.

Riepenhoff’s canvases suggest that he met the challenge of the darkness by passing the time making marks, vertical marks, mostly from the top of the canvas to the bottom. When one canvas becomes fully thatched with marks, but the envelope of darkness persists, Riepenhoff, working from a strategic ecology, continues the mark making across the surface of an already filled canvas. So one session of capturing the dark is thereby layered over with another attempt to meet the same dark sky. Riepenhoff is filling space as well as time.

The line’s thickness is determined by the size of the chosen brush. The marks seem metronomic if not mechanical but given the varying shape they’re irregular enough to feel organic.

In some paintings the marks can feel like fronds drooping downward, creating a thicket that prevents us from seeing beyond. This thicket makes the act of discernment a greater challenge even as the artist leaves gaps between the fronds teasing us into thinking that we can peer into layers underneath, layers of an earlier consideration of the same obscurity. Fortified by all of this termiting labor these are not paintings of nothing, hapless graspings of the dark, but rather these marks insist that the field under our purview requires further burrowing of our own to sense through the thicket to the there there.

– Carl Bogner

John Riepenhoff is the co-founder and director of The Green Gallery in his hometown of Milwaukee. The gallery operates as a site for community engagement through hosting contemporary art exhibitions, performances, screenings, gatherings around beer and food, and more. In addition to these operations, Riepenhoff maintains a studio practice. In recent years this entails painting in the night hours, often while away from home. The paintings in this series began as single-session undertakings, capturing gestural impressions of the night sky around the world. They have evolved to multi-evening endeavors that fixate on the Midwestern sky outside of his studio.

John Riepenhoff (b. 1982, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lives and works in Milwaukee) received a BFA from the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
Riepenhoff is co-owner of The Green Gallery, Milwaukee, runs The Open Fund and the Beer Endowment, co-organized Milwaukee International and Dark Fairs, is an inventor of artistic platforms for the expression of others and regular food ideator.

His exhibitions and curatorial projects have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art New York; Marlborough, New York; Swiss Institute, New York; Nathalie Karg, New York; Broadway Gallery, New York; Tate Modern, London; Crystal Bridges, Bentonville, Arkansas; 356 Mission Rd, Los Angeles; Poor Farm, Wisconsin; Lynden Sculpture Garden, Milwaukee; Inova, Milwaukee; The Suburban, Milwaukee; Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta; John Michael Kohler Art Preserve, Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He also continues a program of the John Riepenhoff Experience at various locations around the world, including at Misako and Rosen, Tokyo, Night Gallery, Los Angeles; and Good Weather, Arkansas.

Concurrently with the opening of Naked Eye we will also present LA SAISON DE RENDEZ- VOUS, a beer in collaboration with Brasserie Illegaal in Brussels.

Photo credits: Isabelle Arthuis