Joseph Riggs

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My artwork takes a contemporary look at the American West, using some of the principles of the Impressionists and Post impressionists. It is Southwest Modernism. My journey as an artist has taken a multitude of paths.  After 40 years as a criminal defense attorney in New Mexico, I began a new life and a new career as an artist. I had always painted, and much of my earlier artistic career focused on rodeos and rodeo cowboys. I moved from Albuquerque to Santa Fe in 2013. In 2015 I had the good fortune to have an artistic life changing experience. I spent six weeks in Paris, France experiencing life as a Frenchman. I walked the streets of Picasso, Monet, Cezanne , Van Gogh and so many others of the Impressionist, and the Post impressionists. And I learned one of the important lessons taught by these masters, “Paint what inspires you, and, if luck smiles upon you, someone else might love it enough to buy it”.  I determined to make that path my own. 
I returned to New Mexico with a new perspective. I wanted to experiment with new materials and new subjects. I wanted to see where my inspirations led. My new paintings begin to focus on what I loved most about New Mexico and the Southwest. The sky has always fascinated me, both the daytime sky and the nighttime sky with its millions of stars. I began to paint Native American subjects which had been a mystery to me since my childhood in Texas. And I begin to feel the spirit of Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Juan Gris, Georges Braque, and Albert Gleizes.  Their spirits had guided me in Paris. I have always loved Cubism, and it’s roots with Cezanne. And, it was fitting that it is now the 100th anniversary of this early 20th Century art movement. Could I combine these spiritual influences, and make them my own, and like what I was painting? Could I follow the storied Southwest Modernism movement of Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Raymond Jonson, Andrew Dasburg, John Marin and Cady Wells? Could I put all of these influences together, and carve my own artistic path? I was determined to try.
Most recently, my spiritual influences have led me deeper into abstraction.  Focusing on the line, the color, the shape, the overall impression and the ultimate image has pushed me toward complete abstraction. No longer do I try to copy or paint an object. I don’t want to make a picture of something. Color is no longer just for coloring. Color becomes part of the form itself. Line is no longer the guide to painting a shape.  Line becomes part of the form itself. Color and line create the shape and dimension. I want the painting to be defined by the viewer’s imagination.  I want the viewer to find his/her imagination in my form, color and shape. I hope that you enjoy joining me on this adventure.