Painter Rocco Ritchie, Son of Madonna, Takes a Bow with Miami Pop-Up

From a young age, art 'gave me a place to escape,' the artist says in an interview.

Rocco Ritchie in his London studio. Photo by Brooke D'Avanzo

Madonna is dominating the Miami headlines this week, with a run of blockbuster concerts. (After the first two sold out, a third was added for tonight.) However, the renowned icon’s first son, Rocco Ritchie, is also making waves in the Magic City right now.

That’s because Ritchie, a talented painter, is prepping a two-day pop-up exhibition. Titled “Pack a Punch,” it will features new paintings and be on view Wednesday and Thursday, April 10 and 11, at 30 NE 40 Street in Miami’s Design District. (Its organizer, dealer Jessica Draper, said walk-ins are welcome on Thursday; otherwise, viewings are only by appointment.)

Born in Los Angeles in 2000, Ritchie studied at Central Saint Martins and the Royal Drawing School in London, where he currently lives and works. In his new works, Ritchie, who cites Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon as major sources of inspiration, is continuing his exploration of the human figure. This presentation follows “Lovers and Enemies,” a solo show of Ritchie’s work in London last fall, where he showed portraits of his friends and family. That one was curated by David Dawson, formerly Freud’s studio manager.

Ritchie’s parents (his father is film director Guy Ritchie) have been enthusiastic supporters of his painting practice, and his work is in the collections of fashion designers Stella McCartney and Donatella Versace and dealer Lorcan O’Neill, among others.

Artnet caught up with Ritchie on the eve of his opening to ask about his training, his inspirations, and his early years operating under a pseudonym.

an image of a work showing two boxers mid fight

Rocco Ritchie, Rick and Mick, (2024). Photo by Brooke D’Avanzo

When and why did you first pick up a paintbrush?

I’ve been painting since I was a small kid. It is something that always caught my attention and gave me a place to escape.

Did you have formal training?

I went to Central Saint Martins, but I developed my draftsmanship at the Royal Drawing School in London. I studied there for a few years.

Your paintings are figurative, bold, and almost expressionist, with an intriguing palette. Who are some of your biggest influences?

My influences have changed over the course of time, and what is happening in my life informs which artists I am looking at. Recently I’ve been focusing on British painters over the past 100 years or so, such as Bacon, Freud, Auerbach, and David Hockney. For this show, I was particularly inspired by Frank Auerbach’s show at the Courtauld; the black and white charcoal works on paper.

an image of a tired boxer being hugged by his trainer

Rocco Ritchie, Broken Jeff, (2024). Photo by Brooke D’Avanzo

Can you tell us about the pseudonym, “Rhed,” that you went by initially?

Rhed was something I came up with to go under the radar in the first few years of making work. It doesn’t hold much deep meaning behind it, I just liked the way it sounded. I tried to go along with it for as long as I could, but word eventually got out.

Were you wanting to stay anonymous and/or were you unhappy about being identified?

I’m proud of who I am and where I’ve come from, but I know people would have judged me aggressively in my early stages if I came out with my name. I wanted to develop technically before showing under my name.

Do you work with a particular gallery or someone who handles the sales of your work?

As of now I am working with [art dealer] Jessica Draper. I’ve worked with galleries in the past, I’m just waiting to find the right one.

Who are some of your favorite artists whether historical or contemporary?

My favorite artists vary from Leonardo da Vinci, to Rembrandt, to Paula Rego. Contemporary wise, I really like the work of Joseph Yaeger and Lens Geerk.

“Rocco Ritchie: Pack a Punch” is on view at 30 NE 40 Street in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.