Each quarter, we display work from a different local artist at our Main Street Real Estate Gallery. Our newest featured artist is Christopher Rico. To learn a little more about Christopher, we asked him some questions about his work.
Explain the process you go through for your work. What draws you to the mediums you choose?
My process involves addition and reduction, and wet on wet techniques. I work on the paintings in stages, separated by days to allow for drying time. They often take months depending on the size of the work. Sometimes I like to think I’m excavating the images in that there’s a lot of discovery at each stage, and that takes time and mindfulness.
One of the questions people ask me is what role chance plays in my work. My answer is that its role is minimal, but what I do work towards is its appearance. I know my materials and I know my processes, so I have a good idea as to how to achieve certain things within the picture. In terms of medium, I’ve always been drawn to oil because I feel it connects me to the lineage of painters and the history of painting. It’s in many ways a very unforgiving medium, and I enjoy having to contend with it during the process as well as pushing its properties in new ways.
What piqued your interest in art?
I’ve always been an artist. It took me a long time to realize it, however. I didn’t grow up around other artists, so I had no idea how to even go about it. I started out doing oxidation art on copper and set design for the theatre, and then slowly moved to oil painting. I always drew as a kid, and then took figure-drawing lessons as an adult. My drawings still very much inform my painting. I think I started doing it professionally because it felt like an imperative more than a choice. It’s been a very circuitous road, but I have no regrets.
How would you describe your style of art?
Non-objective abstraction. Simply meaning I’m not trying to represent some specific thing or render likeness. I think it’s more about conditions. But I don’t discount what others read into it. In fact, the nature of my work invites people to see whatever they bring to it, and that really completes the work in a sense. I like that it’s open and engaging in that way, dialogic in nature.
Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?
I tend to downplay inspiration. I’m always noticing things and exploring and considering ideas and working them out in my sketchbooks. It’s a constant state of being for me rather than a thing that happens at some special ah-ha moment. I believe that work comes from work, and logging the hours in the studio is what makes one a better artist, certainly that is true for me. It’s called a practice for a reason.
What’s your favorite piece of your own work?
Personality-wise I tend to be very in the moment, so I think whatever piece I’m working on and most excited about in the studio at any given time is my favorite. I strive to be surprised by my own work. Also, I hope I’m always getting better at this, so I tend not to be too attached to past work. In many ways I think attachment is a major obstacle to creativity. When I’m painting, if there’s some area of a painting I really like, I have trained myself to paint it out. If an idea can survive resistance, or even partial destruction, then it is an idea worthy of developing.
What’s an interesting fact about you or your work?
I went through almost all the blacks before deciding on Mars black. I see them as black paintings.
What famous artist do you most admire?
So many. Many friends on both coasts and around the world, some at my career level and others way beyond it. It’s a long list and I don’t want to leave anyone out, but I have links to some of them on my website.
In terms of famous artists, a big one is Mark Rothko because I share his interest in the sublime and the spiritual nature of art. I saw the Frank Stella retrospective at the Whitney earlier this year, which was a powerful experience that I’m still processing. Richard Serra, especially his drawings but the sculptures of course. Twombly, Caravaggio, Barceló, Rubens, some of Schnabel’s work too.
To learn more about Christopher Rico, visit his website.
Come meet Christopher Rico at our Artist Reception on April 21st from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Main Street Real Estate Gallery. Christopher’s art will be on display at the gallery from April 1 – June 30.