Writing on the Wall

Erik ReeL, #1389, Writing on the Wall, acrylic on canvas, 44 x 34 inches 112 x 87 cm, 2009

Writing on the Wall was one of the earliest paintings completed after ReeL’s breakthrough in early 2009.  Its title was originally a reference to the Biblical Old Testament story of the writing on the wall, only for the 21st century. By the time the painting was first exhibited it had already gained a certain amount of notoriety online and amongst a small circle of painters, friends, and supporters close to ReeL. Many people have come to refer to the painting as a ReeL signature piece, whatever that means, though, to be fair, it is more unlike most of his other work of the time than almost any other painting painted between 2009 and 2017.

This painting was initially exhibited in the solo show, Rebar, at the Museum of Ventura County in 2014.

This painting has been reproduced and shared more than any other painting ReeL has done since 2009, though it does not come close to the pre-2009 piece Big Hearted Woman [red version] which went viral as a screen saver back in the early days of screen savers and the internet.

Unfortunately Big Hearted Woman [red version] was copied without attribution and without ReeL’s knowledge.  ReeL only became aware of the situation when a professor then at SUNY Binghamton University told him that a professor at another university had sent her a beautiful image for a screen saver and she realized it was one of ReeL’s works and contacted him with the news.

Since she and ReeL already had, as far as anyone can figure out, more than four degrees of separation from each other on the sharing path and it was possible to track over 2 million initial downloads, this means the image had to have been shared tens of millions of times. Two giclee manufacturers were also caught pirating the image. It turns out that if ReeL had received a dime for every time his image had been used by someone or a commission for every time it was sold by someone, that single image would have made him a multi-millionaire.

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