Through his distinctive stylised portraits, Ricardo Partida addresses themes of identity and belonging.
Growing up as a queer brown man in the outskirts of South Texas, Partida found solace in visual arts, channeling his work to criticise and redefine the traditional representations of gender and sexuality in the Western art canon. Manipulating the dichotomy of menace and allure, his work focuses on depicting sexuality and desire in an unapologetic light.
Taking inspiration from old masters’ compositions and neoclassical elements of Greek mythology, Partida creates imagery that questions power structures through unconventional depictions of masculinity and seduction. Crafting narratives that take their conceptual footing from reality and propel them into an embellished realm of fantasy, he creates imagery that resonates with the audience on a personal level.
For his Platform exhibition, Partida chose a series titled Bridgeport to Heaven, which consists of sensual avatars that obscure self and subject to embody power and desire.
As elucidated by the title, Bridgeport To Heaven refers to Partida’s relationship to his neighbourhood Bridgeport in Chicago, Illinois and the space he occupies within it. As Bridgeport is a heavily patrolled area, slammed between the Pilsen Latino neighbourhood and Chinatown, it provides a unique hybridity of cultures and settings from which to draw inspiration.
10 Speed Freak
Death from Above
Like a Thief In The Night
A focal theme in these works is the portrayal of contradictions, ambiguity and the human state.
The jewel-toned hues, as well as the gestural lines and veils of oil paint applied thinly, as if watercolour, brilliantly exemplify Partida’s artistic vernacular.
The interplay between the vivid colours, detailed and loose brushwork creates immersive compositions. The bold use of colour further accentuates the sense of tension.
An interesting element in these works is the piercing gaze and expressivity of each subject, which according to the artist is reflective of his experience navigating hetero spaces as a gay man.
About the Artist
Ricardo Partida is a Mexican-born, Chicago-based painter and graduate from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago’s Master of Fine Arts in Studio program.
Using the visual language of figura serpentinata, his works create exalted alter egos that question conventional power structures while obscuring artist and subject. Through the use of surface treatments, mark making and hybridising lines and proportions previously associated with a gendered painting language, his work creates surrogacies of seduction. Partida’s work has been exhibited nationally including in Texas, Chicago and New York.
Arts of Life, Chicago
Founded in 2000, Arts of Life’s mission has been to create a working, person-centric, artistic community while providing a work environment of equality in Chicago. By providing artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities a collective space to expand their practice and strengthen their leadership, Arts of Life strives to advance the creative arts community.