Alum Mike Ryczek (‘06) Releases New Book

January 10, 2023

This past December Montserrat alumnus Mike Ryczek published his first book! Surveillance’s 46 pages feature the 19 paintings that comprised Ryczek’s 2020-22 series by the same name.

The Surveillance series began as a response to COVID lockdowns in 2020. At the time, Ryczek had just returned to the US after a stay in South Korea. The solo show that marked his return ended a week before the first lockdowns began.

Each painting in the series was inspired by found imagery sourced from an online repository of over 72,000 public surveillance feeds. Ryczek was drawn to the workaday details and unguarded subjects, normally inaccessible to an outsider. The perspective of the cameras were naturally functional rather than aesthetic, and Ryczek’s process involved editing, re-arranging, and combining still images in Photoshop before moving to the painting stage.

The work overall draws from the timeless tradition of people-watching, now facilitated by technological means. That conversation between old habits and electronic perspectives carries through to the final product, where elevated camera angles and digital distortions are replicated or referenced within the paintings. Vast distances are crossed in a moment, exposing an intimate view into the lives of others. And yet, the subject and the viewer remain separated by the very screens that collapsed the distance between them in the first place.

The Surveillance paintings were previously featured in an exhibition this fall at 13Forest Gallery alongside the work of artist Chen Peng. The gallery director of 13Forest, Caitee Hoglund, provides the book’s introduction, which comes alongside an essay by Ryczek himself.

To read more about Ryczek’s process you can read our previous discussion with him here.

Surveillance can be ordered through Ryczek’s website. To keep up with more from his growing body of work you can follow him on instagram at @m_ryczek.