I guess it's that part of me that's always looking for a good film to sink my teeth into despite the fact that I waste way too much time watching the latest hits. Christopher's blog has that kind of meaty film appeal to me--it chronicles his life as a painter, his philosophical musings, his tortured moments and plenty of happy ones too. Anyway, this interview with one of my favorite blogland acquaintances is long overdue. Hope you enjoy!
mj: When did you start painting and when did you realize that this is what you wanted to do?
christopher: I started drawing as a toddler and took art classes as an adolescent. I allowed myself to become disillusioned for a decade after starting college, and discovered it again in my late 20’s. I moved into my first live/work studio 12 years ago. I’ve never allowed myself the luxury of doubt again.
mj: Can you talk a little about your new show and what inspired it?
christopher: This current body of work began as a visual expression of jazz. I was listening to Miles' Bitches Brew and also lots of Eric Dolphy. I was attempting to find discordant rifts of color, sort of like visual chords if you will. It slowly morphed into singular forms as the overall pictorial field became more interesting to me. Over time, horizons appeared and I responded to that rather than trying to deny it.
mj: Who are your favorite artists?
christopher: Mark Rothko, J.M.W. Turner, Velasquez, Pollock, Caravaggio, Richard Serra
mj: Can you talk a little about your process as a painter?
christopher: My process has become more reductive in some ways over the years. By that I mean that I paint intuitively and as images appear, I paint them out. I want to use the entire pictorial field, indeed to expand it beyond the constraints of the physical support.
I paint fast and my techniques are very physical and muscular in the sense that I am moving in and out of the surface like a boxer at times, hurling, slashing, and jabbing. I’m trying to get as much information as possible onto the surface as quickly as possible. Trying to reveal the life behind the blank canvas. In some ways I suppose I’m like a sculptor with a large piece of marble.
mj: From what I've seen of your work space, via your blog, it looks amazing. Can you talk a little about your work space and how it affects your painting. How does living outside the city (any city really) affect your work?
christopher: I've loved living in large cities. My life has become much more quiet, and this current studio has such a rich energy. Painters--all artists really, respond to our environments, so each time one changes working space one runs the risk of changing the work. Fortunately, this has been a very good thing in my case. I'm free to work as big or as small as I want. I'm free to leave things in a state of process and come back. That's so important. Like Rauschenberg said of Paris when he moved there after the War, "I arrived a generation too late." That's how I feel about living in NYC. The New York I want to live in doesn't exist any more for artists. I respect the people who are trying, but it is not the center of painting it was 20 or 30 years ago. My studio is not possible in a Chicago or New York or LA. I live and work without any kind of community support as an artist; I think that is what I truly miss about living in a city.
mj: Are you working on something new? What's next?
christopher: Always. Wait and see.
Here are a few THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT CHRISTOPHER RICO:
A) THE FOUR MOST STYLISH PEOPLE THAT INFLUENCED ME:
1. My Grandfather
2. Fred Astaire
3. Marlon Brando (young)
4. Edith Head, both personally and professionally
B) FOUR WAYS THAT STYLE MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
1. Personal expression of one's style exudes confidence and this uplifts people around you. Being oneself encourages others to be themselves and so on and on. When you have style, you have that combination of confidence, humor and ease that is a positive energy in the world.
2. "If everybody looked the same, we'd get tired of looking at each other" - Groove Armada
3. Its openness. By that I mean that there are no rules to what can be stylish. I get as many compliments in a t-shirt and jeans as I do in a tailored suit. When people wear their clothes instead of the fashion or designer wearing them on that person, it generally looks good.
4. The preponderance of style/fashion blogs has helped everyday people begin to think about what they put on in the morning. Since we all have to look at their decision, I think that’s a very good thing.
C) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE DESIGNERS
1. Ralph Lauren. Timeless. He often pulls off irony with grace and authenticity.
2. Scott Sternberg of Band of Outsiders. I think he's one to watch as he matures. To me it's good fashion, playful, well made, sensitive to the silhouette. I imagine his stuff looking good twenty years from now.
3. Versace (vintage)
4. Thom Browne, more for his overall impact on men's fashion and suiting than his personal fashion philosophy, which at times I find to be rather rigid. I still reject the high-water breeches thing.
D) FOUR JOBS I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE:
3. club owner
E) FOUR MOVIES I WOULD WATCH OVER AND OVER (AND DO):
1. High Society
2. Any Chinese epic film with Li Gong
3. La Dolce Vida
4. Any film with Audrey Hepburn, especially Roman Holiday
F) FOUR PLACES WHERE I HAVE LIVED:
3. New Orleans
G) FOUR TV SHOWS I LOVE TO WATCH:
I don’t watch television. Ever. It’s bad for you
H) FOUR PLACES I HAVE BEEN ON VACATION IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS:
2. the mountains
4. Asheville, NC
I) FOUR WEBSITES I VISIT DAILY (Or at least Weekly):
1. A Continuous Lean
2. Art: Theories and Provocations
3. Trust Your Style
J) FOUR OF MY FAVORITE FOODS:
1. Illusions, by Richard Back
2. Anne Sexton: Collected Poems
3. A Moveable Feast, by Earnest Hemmingway
4. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren
K) FOUR PLACES I WOULD RATHER BE RIGHT NOW:
1. with my family
2. in the studio
4. honestly, nowhere else but here and now
Thank you Christopher for stopping by! I'm looking forward to seeing all your latest work!
If you're interested in checking out more of Christopher's work, he has a brand new book of paintings that you can purchase here.