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The running thread connecting all of my work is a metaphysical exploration of the world
around us, driven by a desire to harness the infinite within a finite space, to solidify the
ephemeral, and to visualize what I struggle to verbalize. This has been the goal
throughout my career, even as my work has shifted in appearance and in media. I spent
many years investigating abstraction before touching upon my latest subject matter, the
landscape. Taking cues from nature, I value spontaneity and chance, and I am receptive
to the unexpected or the unknown when painting. I prefer vibrant surfaces and energetic
marks over precise renderings, and I find that those images that come quickly and
surprisingly are those that authentically translate the experience of being present in
By shifting my attention to the balanced and often beautiful dynamics of the natural
world, the landscape has become a personal source of hope in the face of so much
instability. Over the last several years, I am fortunate to have formed a close relationship
with a landscape in the remote Turano Valley of central Italy. Slightly removed from the
chaos of contemporary life, the scale, diversity and quiet beauty of the terrain gives me
an acute sense of being both overwhelmed and protected by the landscape. It has also
opened my eyes to greater opportunities for painting and image making. Returning
frequently to the Valley, it has become an undeniable influence on how I conceive of and
execute my work.
I do not paint from life although my paintings are filled with observational details. While
I may depict water, mountains, and sky familiar to Turano Valley, my paintings do not
mean to represent this exact place or a particular moment in time. Instead, they intend
to capture an instant, like when a solid mountain is disappeared by a wispy cloud or
when a clump of trees suddenly loses its definition to become a dark silhouette. With
multiple layers of color and careful attention to texture, these works depict forms as both
stable and volatile while using imagery ranging from pictorial to abstract to render
experiences of vast landscapes within the confines and artificiality of the picture plane.
Born 1977 in Wareham, MA.
In 1999 Riley received BFA in Painting from the Massachusetts College of Art and
Design. In 2004 he received an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Pennsylvania.
His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions throughout the Northeast
including; Danese/Corey in New York City, TSA NY in Brooklyn, NY, Gallery 263 in
Cambridge, MA, Arthur Ross Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, The Arts Center of the Capital
Region in Troy, NY, and several others.
He has received grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, The Rhode Island State
Council on the Arts, and the Berkshire Taconic Foundation. Riley has been an artist in
residence at the Joan Mitchell Center, Yaddo, and the Vermont Studio Center.
Riley currently lives in Washington, DC and maintains a studio in Colle di Tora, Italy.