Enrico Riley, The Blues in Me: Witnessing Love, challenges viewers to decipher and contextualize his work’s fractured narratives. Riley’s most recent paintings explore themes of hope, music, and perseverance. The paintings are part of an unfolding and evolving cycle that investigates themes of historical and contemporary violence, martyrdom, grief, and the middle passage within a spatial domain. For many Americans, exposure to the plethora of recent media examples of reflexive violence perpetrated on Black Americans has blurred the boundaries between the historical record with which our country is so familiar and the problems still facing contemporary culture today. From this epicenter of misfortune and violence, Riley is using the medium of painting as a method for remembering and reflecting upon grief, but also as a means to investigate the linkages between the old world and new, to not just recycle the old stories but also to seek paths for forging new narratives. We are shown a witness of the past, present, and future acts of violence who holds both remembrance of hardship and the optimism to overcome these hardships. In these paintings and drawings we are given positive means to break that cycle of injustice and the hope it can be accomplished.
Enrico Riley was born in Waterbury, CT in 1973 and is a Professor of Studio Art at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. He currently lives and works in Vermont and New Hampshire. Riley received a BA in Visual Studies from Dartmouth College and an MFA in painting from Yale University School of Art.