lives in Roswell, NM
born in New Brunswick, NJ
justinrichel.com | @justinrichel
Justin Richel infuses his paintings and sculptures with incisive, humorous, and exacting layers of commentary. He studied the technique of icon painting at the Franciscan monastery in Kennebunk, Maine, in 2004. This thoughtful Franciscan attention to color and the creation of signifiers informs his work, but his use of these methods is unique.
Richel’s pastel paintings create jarring, beautiful contrasts between shades of gray and color. The scenes imply threat, despite their loveliness. For example, in the series Nocturnes, Richel paints ominous domestic spaces at night, empty but for illumination that is at once familiar and eerie. Childhood fears may lurk around any corner. Other paintings challenge consumerism with the levity offered by color and funhouse-mirror garishness.
His sculptures are likewise dense. His Used Books sculptures are delightfully playful, where well-thumbed copies of Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols and Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World are paired with random objects (e.g. a banana)—all carved from wood. The media and the mystery tease the viewer with questions and draw one into a game of meaning-making.
Richel received his MFA from Maine College. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Massachusetts; Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Maine; and the Fitchburg Museum of Art, Massachusetts. He has been awarded the Arts/Industry residency at Kohler Co. in Wisconsin, a Monhegan Island Residency in Maine, and two fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.