Erik ReeL is a post-contemporary artist addressing issues related to mark-making and signification.

His work is represented by collections in New York,  Berlin, Los Angeles,, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Houston, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Paris, London, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle, Indianapolis,  San Diego, Santa Barbara,  and Santa Fe [NM].

Public collections include Seattle City Light, the Museum of Ventura County, City of Seattle, and the Morris Graves Museum of Art.



Erik ReeL was born in Seattle in 1952, attended Whitman College, majoring in mathematics; the University of California, at Berkeley; and the University of Washington in  art history, and studio art, graduating summa cum laude in 1975.  He studied art history with Rainer Crone and Ettlinger, painting with Jacob Lawrence and Michael Spafford, color with Richard Dahn [a student of Albers], sumi-e with George Tsutakawa, and Chinese brush with Hsai Chen.

In the 1970s ReeL wrote on art for Vanguard, ArtExpress, High Performance, ArtWeek, wrote a weekly column on the arts for the Bellevue Journal-American, as well as reviews for a variety of publications, and was arts editor for the Seattle Voice city magazine. He sat on the Seattle Arts Commission Special Task Force for Media, and the Special Task Force for Educational Institutions in the Arts. For half a decade he taught art history, color theory, life painting, and design at the Seattle Central Community College before leaving Seattle permanently in 1984.

In 2012 he met Rhonda Hill, his wife, and currently maintains a studio north of Los Angeles, in Ventura, California.


Artist’s statement: Influences

My work has been influenced by micro- and nano-photography, poorly erased whiteboards, sidewalks, ruins, abandoned industrial sites, ancient stone surfaces, fire, sand, sea and ice, charcoal, hieroglyphs, esoteric texts, Hubble Ultra-Deep Field photographs, photographs of things we cannot see with the naked eye in real time, foundries, wars, concrete, female pubic hair, cytoplasm, craters, wood, other painters, railroad box car markings, Skandinavian runes, scratched surfaces, blizzards, improvisational music, typography, the human voice, the night sky, the inside of an eyeball, the surface of other planets, scars, deserts, scorched earth, and the accidental, which is not really indeterminate, but the result of subtler action on a deeper plane of consciousness.

I have been particularly inspired by improvisational music: Miles Davis, Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Theolonus Monk, Flamenco, Imrat Khan and the improvisational traditions of the Indian sub-continent.

As for early influences, growing up in Seattle my visual starting point for painting was Mark Tobey’s late work: the White Writing paintings.. Other influences included Pacific Northwest Scandinavian textile, architectural, and design traditions, which tend to be highly abstract. Later, it was Klee and Miro: In terms of color theory there is a direct lineage from Itten and Klee to Albers to Dahn to myself. At university, influences also came from Michael Spafford and the Black Mountain school via Jacob Lawrence and Robert Jones who were both at Black Mountain before teaching at Washington when I was there, and then slightly later Cy Twombly via his exhibitions in the 1970s.

I have found that my researches into human mark making are capable of sensitizing people to the subtleties of their internal cognitive processing in ways that are not easy to verbalize, but are clearly perceived by those observers who take the time to look long enough to experience the paintings directly.