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Rising star in art world revealed to be… Madonna’s son Rocco Ritchie

 

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How do you forge a career when you’re the offspring of one of the most famous women in the world? Well, if you’re Madonna’s son Rocco Ritchie, you quietly and diligently create an anonymous persona to launch your own artistic career.

It’s been revealed that ‘Rhed’, a rising name on the contemporary art scene, is actually Rocco Ritchie, the 21-old son of Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie.


Since 2018, Rhed has already enjoyed three solo exhibitions at the Tanya Baxter Contemporary gallery in Chelsea, London. The gallery’s website does not mention Ritchie by name, but its biography of Rhed perfectly matches that of Ritchie. Both artists attended Central Saint Martins college and the Royal Drawing School.

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It’s also known that both Madonna and Guy Ritchie, attended the Tanya Baxter Gallery in 2020 for the opening of an exhibition of new work by Rhed. Press at the time was unaware of the connection to Rocco.


Rhed’s work also features on the sales website Artsy, where prices went up to $32,500 for individual pieces.

The Tanya Baxter website offers a gushing description of his work: “When young emerging artist Rhed first burst onto the art scene with his first solo exhibition at Tanya Baxter Contemporary in 2018, he was hailed by some as the new Basquiat.

“There was a flair, an excitement in his paintings. Having an eclectic cultural background, with a childhood spent between New York and London, his paintings exuded an engaging mixture of innocence and confidence. He embraced an expressionist style and vibrant colors, coupled with the freedom and dynamic energy of New York graffiti art.”

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PageSix was the first to unmask Rhed. In late December, Jerrod Blandino, co-founder of cosmetic company Too Faced, also posted a photo of himself with Rocco Ritchie and one of his paintings. Although Blandino made no mention of Rhed, the style was the same as the work seen on the Tanya Baxter website.

 

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Rhed’s gallery says he reveres “[Frank] Auerbach, Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon and David Hockney.” It quotes a handful of art critics praising his work, with one, Hilary Blink, stating, “Rhed is a painter of the 21st century and speaks for the millennial generation. It is so encouraging that he takes such a serious approach to figurative painting, displaying a passion for art as well as a modesty and an eagerness to explore and assimilate.”

Others have not been so kind. Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones said this week he believed Rhed’s work was being put into the public eye too soon.

“His paintings are clumsy adolescent efforts with no sign of originality or vigor,” Jones said. “Obviously that doesn’t mean he will not become a better artist with time. Painting takes work … These daubs are amateur stuff, vaguely imitating Picasso or Modigliani, that could have been done by a million young people.”

Rocco Ritchie was born in August 2000. Madonna and Guy Ritchie, divorced in 2008. In 2016, the couple engaged in a custody dispute over the then 16-year-old Rocco. The youngster was supposed to split his time between father and mother but appeared to want to stay in London with his dad. A custody settlement was agreed but the details were not made public.

Madonna has been on a skiing vacation in the Alps with some of her children this week and posted a photo of herself and Rocco on Instagram.