Psycho-Billy Cadillac

Online Exhibition Preview

Artist, author and designer Richard Roth presents an array of “box paintings” as well as a new series of 38 x 30 inch paintings on panel. His seventh solo exhibition with Reynolds Gallery was originally planned to open April 17, 2020. This special online preview includes a curated selection of four works in celebration and anticipation of the postponed exhibition. Roth derived his exhibition title from the lyrics of One Piece at a Time, a track penned by Wayne Kemp for Johnny Cash’s 1976 album of the same name. The song weaves a story about a Cadillac plant employee who surreptitiously thieves enough discordant vehicle parts to eventually construct his own, one-of-a-kind “Psycho-Billy Cadillac.”

While the artist notes that titles are often arbitrary – a “clash of two things together” – he speaks of One Piece at a Time as “a brilliant song that describes the fun of postmodern appropriation and the culture of collage. Many artists piece together work by borrowing from the past as well as from their own bodies of work, and who can’t love the lyric ‘Psycho-Billy Cadillac?”

The three above “box paintings,” Hell Gate, Bada Boom and Painter’s Block 3, continue a format he developed in 2005 as means of exploring the relationship between two-dimensional surfaces and three-dimensional forms. Each 12 x 8 x 4 inch birch plywood box acts as a playing field for Roth’s dynamic variations of visual abstraction. He cites Navajo blankets, African textiles, contemporary fashion, architecture, furniture design, decorative objects, basketry, and custom cars among the many subjects that have inspired his work. In these often optically-challenging paintings, Roth develops bold relationships between both complimentary and contrasting hues; flaming crimson emerges from stark white, deep black encases pallid blues, and fields of warm ochre cut into the three-dimensional planes.

Collection of thread, yarn, and rope spools inspiring Richard’s new work

Noting that “some ideas live more fully in flatland,” Roth also presents a 38 x 30 inch acrylic painting on panel, Duck Two Ways. This series of larger paintings contains ovoid shapes that appear compressed and squeezed between areas of solid rectilinear forms. While the works also employ birch panels for their support, the paintings dominate a space through their vertical and horizontal spread, existing like flattened down versions of their boxier counterparts.

Psycho-Billy Cadillac is the latest in Roth’s decades long career, which was launched in the late 1960s following his graduation from Cooper Union School of Art. The Professor Emeritus of VCUarts currently lives and works in Camarillo, California.

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Richard Roth taught in the VCUarts Painting and Printmaking department from 1999 to 2015, serving as department chair for eight years. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Cooper Union in New York and Master of Fine Arts from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. In 1991, he was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship in Painting from the National Endowment for the Arts, and later received a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship in Painting (2008–09). He has exhibited at select venues including Margaret Thatcher Projects, David Richard Contemporary, OK Harris Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, all, New York, NY; Edward Cella Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, CA; Highland Institute of Contemporary Art, Loch Ruthven, Scotland; Rocr Gallery, London; UCR/California Museum of Photography; Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan; Valletta Contemporary, Malta; and Gallery SP, Seoul, Korea. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Try-Me Collection, both, Richmond, VA; de Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; The Chase Manhattan Bank Collection and The First National City Bank Collection, both, New York, NY, among others. He is the co-editor of the book, Beauty is Nowhere: Ethical Issues in Art and Design and co-author of two books – Color Basics and Design Basics 3D. In 2019, Roth published NoLab, his first novel. Roth currently lives in Camarillo, California.

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