Rocco Ritchie, son of Madonna and Guy Ritchie, may be an artist operating under the pseudonym Rhed and showing at Tanya Baxter Contemporary in London.
The sleuths at Page Six say they’ve sussed out the identity of this “emerging artist” (Rocco is 21). Suggesting a connection is the fact that the global megastar and her ex were at the 2018 opening of Rhed’s debut show with the gallery, according to the Daily Mail. Rocco was also in attendance.
“We continue to respect the artist’s prerogative to remain anonymous,” Baxter told Artnet News via email. “Much the same way Banksy chooses to keep his identity unknown Rhed will remain incognito.”
Madonna’s publicity agent was not immediately reachable.
The gallery is not afraid to make outsize claims for the artist—for example, asserting that his work recalls that of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Banksy (judging by the images on her website, it does not) and that his 2018 debut took the London art world by storm (we can’t find any reviews, though a more recent show did garner a “must see” mention on a local blog, whose author says his work has “reminiscences of Bacon, Kossoff, Freud, and a dash of early Picasso,” which is not entirely wrong).
In fact, Rhed’s paintings depict the human figure in muted colors, occasionally making explicit pop-culture references, as in the painting Gosling (no dates are given), which might depict actor Ryan Gosling, through it’s hard to tell, since there’s no likeness in the generic male figure’s startled-looking face. There’s also Belle du Jour, which perhaps refers to Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film Belle de Jour, starring Catherine Deneuve as a bored housewife who tries out working at a brothel, though again the figure depicted bears no resemblance to the possible subject (down to a thick head of black hair). Perhaps a clue to the artist’s hidden identity lies in the painting Rhed-M, showing a blond woman. Could the M stand for Madonna? Mother? Only the artist knows for sure.
What else do we know about Rhed? The press release for his summer 2020 exhibition, “Personae and Portraits,” indicates that he attended the Royal Drawing School, and prior to that, Central Saint Martins (whose notable graduates include Steve McQueen, PJ Harvey, M.I.A., Pierce Brosnan, and Antony Gormley). It includes endorsements from critics Godfrey Barker (“one to watch”) and Hilary Binks (“he has matured as a painter”), as well as Oisin Fanning, CEO of San Leon Energy (“a more assured artist”).
Rhed’s paintings are also on offer at Artsy, where prices range from £12,800 to £24,000 (about $17,000 to $31,700).
As the Page Six writer points out, the possible secret identity of Rhed smacks of another raging art-world controversy: Hunter Biden, son of the U.S. president, who recently had a show at New York’s Georges Bergès Gallery, where works were on offer for as much as $500,000, a punchy price for an artist’s debut. In Biden’s case, ethical questions arise, since buyers could potentially curry favor with the leader of the free world. It’s not clear whether there are comparable quandaries about spending $17,000 on a painting by the son of the queen of pop.
At least the prices are a lot more reasonable.
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