Unit London is thrilled to announce the opening of Ricardo Partida’s Platform exhibition. His solo show is now live in our online viewing room (click here to view).
As an artist led gallery, Unit London is dedicated to supporting its artists and providing a focussed space in which they can express their ideas. The Platform exhibition series engages with topical social, political and cultural issues, inviting artists to explore the concepts that motivate their work. To align with the core social principles of the programme, 10% of all sales proceeds are donated to a charity or non-profit of the artist’s choosing. Ricardo Partida’s nominated charity is Arts of Life.
Taking inspiration from old masters’ compositions and neoclassical elements of Greek mythology, Ricardo Partida creates imagery that questions power structures through unconventional depictions of masculinity and seduction. Through his distinctive stylised portraits, Partida also addresses themes of identity and belonging. Crafting narratives that take their conceptual footing from reality and propel them into an embellished realm of fantasy, Partida creates imagery that resonates with the audience on a personal level.
Final Fantasy, 2020, Oil on canvas, 152.4 x 182.9 cm
Ricardo Partida in Conversation:
When did you decide you wanted to be an artist?
RP: I decided that I wanted to be an artist in undergrad, in Texas. I remember just staying up late at night and thinking about these images that I really wanted to bring out into the world. Almost to the point that it made me sick when I didn’t have the time or the ability to express myself in that way.
How did you come to portraiture and human figuration as a focus for your work?
RP: I came to portraiture and human figuration in my work, due to my background in dance. I danced for four years in highschool and I continued dancing for one or two years after. I did some competitive dancing and I was in my highschool’s drill team. I think that definitely brought on my interest in the human body and movement, in a way that I could maybe convey or portray that in 2D form. I think my practice is really informed by performance art and the act of being watched. I definitely think about this when making these characters.
Are there certain painters throughout history who you look to for inspiration?
RP: I think when working with a medium as old as paint referencing the history of it and the material is almost inevitable. I think a lot about Caravaggio, as far as lighting and that kind of dramatic composition that he used a lot. I think about Ang when I elongate bodies and when I find that almost oblongness that is fascinating to engage with.
I once heard Kyle Staver say it’s okay to pick and borrow from different artists and different points in art history to help you inform what it is that you are aiming to create with your work. I highly believe that it is when we find those hybridities in the work that something very unique and interesting happens.
What are the main themes which you explore in your paintings?
RP: Some of the main themes that I explore in my work are; seduction, desire, power and that push and pull that you can create with menace and allure. I think a lot of about the negotiation that I do when navigating hetero normative spaces as a gay man. Especially in Chicago, or even back in Texas where I’m from. I remember there was a big power play that involved navigating spaces and getting around while making sure of my safety or being aware of my surroundings. One of the ongoing themes in the work is the ‘gaze’. I feel like that is something that really informs me of moments of danger or moments of pleasure.
What is your approach to creating a new piece, how much do you improvise?
RP: A lot of the time, other than laying out a plan on a painting I like to work on the painting and almost allow it to dictate to me what the next move is. Sometimes I like to take a step back from the work and assess what it is that the work is asking for rather than putting a preconceived idea of what I want the work to look like. Also, putting those expectations onto the work leads to the work not meeting the standards or maybe not looking like what it is that you were imagining in your head.
How do you work through the problem of creating artwork that resonates with people?
RP: I definitely make the work for individuals who have often felt othered. I really wanted to make this body of work that included unconventional ideas of gender or gender performance as part of its value system. When I find somebody who the work resonates with it means a lot but the work is definitely not for everyone, and that’s okay. As far as it being targeted towards an audience, I think a lot about the girls, the gays, and the LGBTQ community. I think about anyone who is free-spirited, anyone who likes to blur the lines of gender and sexuality.
How would you like to see people interact with your art?
RP: People seeing the work and them feeling seen in society is one of the main desired interactions that I would want from somebody with my work.
Who is your favourite artist right now and why?
RP: I think community is very important especially in the art circuit. I think a lot of Emily Marrie Miller, based in New York. I think a lot about Hannah Lupton Reinhard in LA and Yaejee Min in Chicago. My favourite artist right now is Jonathan Lyndon Chase, I really like the way that they are so aggressive and almost tender in the way that they make work. Jonathan Lyndon Chase is definitely my favourite artist at the moment!