Daniel Rich’s Art: Exploring Past and Present

This is Then and This Is Now

Interview by Evan Pricco // Portrait by Kyle Dorosz

The city is a vibrant and ever-changing entity, and Daniel Rich, through his unique perspective in image-making, captures the fluidity of urban landscapes from above. His goal is to initiate a dialogue about various aspects of cities and architecture, including political power structures, failed utopias, ideological struggles, war, and natural upheavals. With his paintings, Rich presents a language that serves as both a window to the past and a mirror to the future.

Background and Journey

Rich, currently based in NYC but originally from Germany, has experienced a diverse range of locations throughout his life. He grew up in Germany, later moving to South Carolina, and eventually finding himself in New York City. His journey has shaped his artistic perspective and provided him with a unique lens through which to view urban environments.

Initially, Rich was involved in graffiti writing, both in Germany and later in Atlanta. This form of artistic expression and his background in skateboarding instilled in him a distinct way of observing and understanding cities. Furthermore, growing up in Germany and witnessing the impact of history and political change on landscapes fueled his appreciation for architecture and the built environment.

The Timeless and the Uncanny

Rich’s paintings often evoke a sense of absence, a world abandoned by people. While this is not a deliberate intention, the omission of human presence in his art contributes to their timeless quality. These artworks serve as records of a specific moment, capturing the essence of a place without the influence of individuals.

Germany, in particular, offers examples of the clash between old and new architectural styles, resulting from post-war rebuilding efforts. Rich finds fascination in how history can be retained and depicted through architecture, while his paintings inject an element of strangeness, provoking viewers to consider the deeper meanings behind the artwork.

Choosin the Subjects

News and current events play a significant role in Rich’s selection process when choosing cities and structures for his paintings. He immerses himself in various news sources, allowing his attention to be caught by specific events or phenomena. From there, he seeks out images that relate to the subjects that pique his curiosity.

Rich’s works encompass a wide range of cities and contexts, exploring each location’s unique history and architectural evolution. Rather than opting for postcard-perfect views, he prefers complex and dense compositions that offer more open-ended interpretations.

The Method and the Experience

Rich’s artistic process involves meticulous attention to detail and a painstaking technique. He begins by selecting source images and tracing them onto a panel covered in transparent vinyl, allowing for edits and enhancements. Next, he cuts the vinyl according to the traced lines, creating shapes to be painted.

Rich works with an extensive palette of colors, meticulously applying them to the panel using masking techniques. The layering of colors and the physical texture of the work add a tactile quality that enhances the viewing experience when seeing the paintings in person.

Upcoming Show and Themes

Currently preparing for a solo show at Peter Blum Gallery in NYC, Rich intends to explore the concept of globalism versus anti-globalism. He believes that in today’s interconnected world, being opposed to globalization is outdated. The exhibition will feature his signature Amazon fulfillment center works, juxtaposing images of looted or destroyed warehouses with pristine ones, highlighting the power of books and libraries as cultural heritage sites.

Rich’s works also include a large Athens painting depicting the clash between capitalism and communism, an empty stadium drawing inspiration from North Korea, and a painting showcasing worker housing in China. While these images may seem unrelated on the surface, they connect on multiple levels, reflecting the chaos and complexity of history.

Ultimately, Rich’s art offers viewers a glimpse into the intricate layers of urban landscapes, challenging them to reevaluate their perspectives and understand the profound impact of architecture on society.


Daniel Rich’s unique approach to image-making provides a thought-provoking perspective on cities and their architectural transformations. His paintings serve as time capsules, capturing specific moments in history, while also offering an uncanny quality that piques curiosity. Through his forthcoming exhibition and thematic exploration, Rich continues to challenge conventional thinking and shed light on the ever-evolving nature of globalism.


1. What inspired Daniel Rich to explore the connection between cities, architecture, and politics?

Rich’s fascination with cities, architecture, and politics stems from his diverse background, experiences, and observations throughout his life. Growing up in Germany, engaging in graffiti writing, and witnessing the impact of history on landscapes all contributed to his deep appreciation for these interconnected subjects.

2. How does Rich choose which cities and structures to include in his paintings?

Rich’s selection process is influenced by news and current events. He remains attuned to global happenings, allowing his attention to be drawn to specific phenomena or narratives that catch his interest. From there, he searches for images that relate to the subjects he wants to explore.

3. What techniques does Rich employ in his artistic process?

Rich’s technique involves tracing source images onto a vinyl-covered panel and using intricate masking and cutting techniques to create shapes for painting. He meticulously applies multiple layers of paint, resulting in tactile textures and vibrant colors that enhance the viewing experience.

4. How does Rich incorporate themes of globalism and anti-globalism in his upcoming exhibition?

Rich’s exhibition aims to challenge the notion of anti-globalism in today’s interconnected world. By featuring his Amazon fulfillment center works, he examines the evolving role of libraries and encourages contemplation of the impact of globalization. The juxtaposition of looted or destroyed warehouses with untouched ones serves as a visual representation of global shifts.

5. What is the significance of the seemingly unrelated images in Rich’s paintings?

While at first glance, the images in Rich’s paintings may appear unrelated, they carry multiple layers of meaning. Each work intertwines historical, political, and architectural elements, reflecting the chaotic and complex nature of history itself. Rich seeks to evoke curiosity and challenge viewers’ preconceived notions by presenting seemingly disparate images in a thought-provoking context.