Veteran Artist Robert Riemer Listens to His Muse

When Riemer was a student at UCLA, a professor took one look at the dozens of paintings he’d brought in to class to be critiqued, wrinkled his nose, and quipped, “Painting to hang stuff on your walls?” Initially taken aback by the insult, the young artist eventually accepted his lack of conformity as a badge of honor. “I paint what I need to paint,” he says, without a touch of hubris. “I’m not concerned with the audience. … I don’t have an agenda. I’m just painting these images as I feel them.” Riemer’s an accomplished playwright, too, with several L.A. productions under his belt, and his scripts are just as gritty and downbeat as his paintings. “My wife says I should meditate. I do. I’m just writing when I do it.” In this mixed-media piece, “Grace Note,” a topless young woman is at center, the fingers of her right hand bloodied and resting between her breasts; her hair is short, skin pallid, eyes like black coal pits. The financial newsprint background is painted in the shades of Nazi yellow stars and Kristallnacht storefronts whitewashed with anti-Semitic graffiti. A photograph of a hand resting on an exposed belly layers potential abuse on top of everything else we’re seeing. A black figure upper left is bent over in grief, looking away; another face is in repose at the lower right but isn’t looking or caring. A fleeting figure in white feels like a ghost or memory behind her, while she continues to look straight at us. Confrontational, unafraid, and unwilling to let us forget her.

“Grace Note” (2015), mixed media (photographs, oil, newspaper, and plaster) on panel, 48 by 48 inches.
You can visit Riemer and see his work at Scene Gallery, 949-720-3939 or scenegallery@att.net.

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