Talents of Madonna’s Son Divide Critics After Exposed As Secret Artist | Art

He’s a mysterious and up-and-coming artist whose work has been championed by people like Madonna and sells for up to five action figures.

But there were eyebrows raised when it was revealed that “Rhed” was none other than the singer’s eldest son, Rocco Ritchie.

The 21-year-old, Madonna’s child with her ex-husband Guy Ritchie, has reportedly been quietly established as an expressionist painter, with a number of exhibitions at the Tanya Baxter Contemporary gallery in Chelsea, in the west of London, since 2018.

But since PageSix unmasked Ritchie, opinions have been divided as to whether his success is due to talent or the weight of his parents’ names.

It’s hard to argue that Ritchie is Rhed. Both are the same age, grew up in identical towns, and attended Central Saint Martins and the Royal Drawing School. In 2020, Madonna and Guy Ritchie even gathered at the Tanya Baxter Contemporary, alongside their partners and children, for a then unnamed exhibition.

So what do we know about his work? Rhed uses thickly applied oils and gestural brushstrokes for her depictions of the human form, according to Tanya Baxter, the gallery’s curator.

Madame Bicyclette de Rhed, aka Rocco Ritchie. Photography: courtesy of Tanya Baxter Contemporary

His inspirations include Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Paula Rego and Helmut Newton. While his subjects have “psychological tension,” he balances this out by using a colorful palette and “playfully painting figures that loom in the middle of the canvas, often against a monochrome abstract background,” Baxter says.

“Having an eclectic cultural background, with a childhood spent between New York and London, her paintings exude an endearing blend of innocence and confidence,” she adds.

Rhed himself said he was “fascinated by the world inside and out, especially where they meet.” The message of his paintings is that there is “beauty in the struggle of life” – more beauty, he says, than when life gets easy.

The King’s Road Gallery, which compared Rhed’s work to Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy, promotes a number of positive reviews, notably from Mervyn Davies, a former president of the Royal Academy. “Good artists are those who transform energy into something beautiful that resonates with the eye,” says Davies. “Anyone can be a painter, but it’s about making people think, provoking emotions.

Artistic writer Godfrey Barker called Rhed “an authentic, pure, undiluted product of the 21st century … Rhed is yet to be ranked among the Golden Youth who rocked the world at Frieze in 1988. But he needs to be mentioned in theirs. company He makes a powerful statement on Anxiety Now and points to the future.

Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones was less enthusiastic, suggesting the artist had been unveiled to the public too soon.

“His paintings are awkward teenage endeavors with no sign of originality or vigor,” Jones said. “Obviously, that doesn’t mean he won’t become a better artist over time. Painting takes work. So it seems a shame that Rhed has been put in the public eye when he’s just not, at this point, a true performer. These daubs are amateur stuff, vaguely imitating Picasso or Modigliani, that could have been done by a million young people.

The gallery, Jones added, “should be ashamed of cynically pushing this unwilling youngster into the market. They compare it to street artists Banksy and Basquiat but to be honest the only street they remind me of is King’s Road where this kind of bad art is sure to sell to chic fools.

Rhed’s coins are listed on Artsy for up to £ 24,000. It remains to be seen whether the world should have allowed Ritchie to continue using a false name.

Tanya Baxter Contemporary has been contacted for comment.

James C. Tibbs