BEYOND THE STREETS is pleased to announce Party at Megiddo, the LA solo debut from Oakland-based visual artist Gregory Rick. A recipient of SFMOMA’s 2022 SECA Art Award, recent graduate of Stanford University’s MFA art practice program, and participant in BEYOND THE STREETS’ inaugural Post Graffiti exhibition, Rick will showcase a new collection of work that builds on the genre of history painting, describing his art as exploring “the known, the obscure, and the forgotten”, while questioning the who’s and why’s of history.
A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Rick’s work is inspired by personal experiences, but is not entirely personal. It tells stories that reflect his life as it relates to a dialogue with the wider world. Where myth gives voice to the underbelly, the lumpen in tandem displaying the familiar and grandiose. His work tethers together seemingly opposing ideas between the personal, the historical and the political.
“I’m painting on a shaky historical line cemented in humility and conviction. I occupy my pictures with characters who serve as archetypes in conjunction with memory and self-exploration reflecting on the absurdness and monumentality of history,” Rick shares.
The title for Rick’s show combines two words that seem inextricably opposing yet cemented in cognitive dissonance. Megiddo is a reference to the battle of Armageddon, being the city in which the great last battle was prophesied to occur. It references a party at the final battle of humanity, questioning the uncertain times we live in, where we rapidly feed the fire of the anthropocene, on cruise control in the fast lane to extinction with such reckless ferocity it almost seems as if we are celebrating our own demise. The exhibition has few answers but instead reflects and fosters many questions as Rick ponders a crucial part of this contemporary moment.
Rick’s fondness for art began around the time his father was sentenced to prison for manslaughter. It served as both a means of gaining agency in a chaotic childhood – as one has control of the narrative in one’s own pictures – and as a connection with his father through the meticulous copying of illustrations from an old military encyclopedia that he left behind before being incarcerated. When schools in his area stopped offering art classes, Rick became infatuated with the art that was readily available, which was graffiti. He would dedicate his life to deciphering the cryptic language, which led to trouble with the law, including charges that were ultimately cleared after Rick enlisted in the Army. There he was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division, with whom he fought in Iraq from 2005 to 2006.
After his enlistment term was up, Rick found it hard to adjust back to his old life and ultimately found himself homeless and struggling with a number of issues. He still carried around pen and paper and would draw for the same reasons that motivated him in his youth. During this seminal point in his life, he sought help from the local Veterans Affairs office, where art became a critical aspect of his recovery.
“Gregory Rick’s work speaks about power and anguish, good and evil. About resiliency. He contextualizes these narratives by mining the complexities of our collective past and sharing perspectives often omitted in historical accounts. His ability to shine a light on the oppressed and forgotten is a triumph that we’re proud and excited to share with Los Angeles,” says gallery director Dante Parel.
BEYOND THE STREETS Gallery
434 N La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036