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SMFA alumnus explores 21st-century painting in color, portraits, and abstraction

Since graduating from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA 1999), Ridley Howard has explored how 21st-century painting might capture intense yet oblique emotion. He pares down color and geometry into delicately composed portraits, landscapes, and abstractions that recall the cool psychology of paintings by Edward Hopper or Ed Ruscha. Yet their soft-edged finish knowingly hints that painterly romanticism is at the core of his work. In 2011, the SMFA awarded Howard a prestigious Traveling Fellowship; as a fellow, Howard toured Italy to consider early Renaissance paintings by Piero della Francesca, and styles explored by Italian modernists. Howard fuses these art historical and pop culture influences with diverse subjects—a portrait of his wife, a sweater pattern seen online, a scene glimpsed across the street—to combine the lovingly intimate and deliberately undefined.

Above: Ridley Howard, Blues and Pink (detail)2012. Oil on linen. Private Collection, New York. Photo: Ridley Howard. Courtesy of the artist and Leo Koenig Inc., New York. © 2013 Ridley Howard.