Text by Tina Kukielski
Michael Riedel produces some of today’s most captivating and complex contemporary art. With a practice that spans new media, book and magazine production, and painting, Riedel is as comfortable in the world of print and analog information as he is in the digital realm of websites and HTML code.
Michael Riedel: Poster—Painting—Presentation is the first of Riedel’s books to examine in depth the practice for which he has become best known: the systematic creation of paintings from posters generated with text he finds online. Using websites that mention his work in some respect—ranging from reviews to exhibition pages—Riedel copies and pastes the HTML code, highlighting certain words as he goes along, into one of his thirty-four poster templates, which he then arranges in different colors and orientations to make his paintings. The number of possible paintings, while high, is not infinite since there is a fixed set of posters. Perhaps, even more interesting than the limit, or the way Riedel uses self-referentiality in his source text, is the idea of making paintings out of words, or turning text into pigment. By using the code to make posters, Riedel creates a palette of words from which his paintings are generated. His process distances words from their traditional or literal meanings, and presents them visually, almost as symbols. The words’ meaning is not altogether lost, but the emphasis is visual as language begins to take on painterly significance.
With a new essay by Tina Kukielski, curator and Executive Director of ART21, Michael Riedel: Poster—Painting—Presentation lays out for the first time the intricate and rich process behind the artist’s ongoing series of paintings. The book, like the essay, is divided into three sections—one dedicated to Riedel’s posters, one to his Poster Paintings, and one to his more recent PowerPoint Paintings—and provides clarity around the artist’s practice without eliminating the style and inherent complexity of his work. For experts and newcomers alike, Michael Riedel: Poster—Painting—Presentation is an essential exploration of one of the most innovative contemporary artists working today.