Born and raised in New York City, Ricky Mujica studied art at the High School of Art and Design, Parsons in Paris, and at Parsons School of Design /New School for Social Research where he won a full Presidential Scholarship.
The artwork of Ricky Mujica was initially influenced by the old masters and this connection has helped him achieve a high level of success as an illustrator. Before returning to his roots as a fine artist, Ricky Mujica created art for all the top publishing companies including Harper Collins, Harlequin, Bantam, and Scholastic. He has created art for major magazines including the New York Times Magazine and Ebony. His work has been seen in commercials for such products as Cherry 7-Up, on murals for Sony and Leows theaters, and on clothes for fashion designer Rachel Roy. His artwork has been represented at the Museum of American Illustration on several occasions.
Since returning to his first love, Fine Art, Ricky has received many awards. This includes a first place finish at the April round of The Representational Art Conference 2015 competition (TRAC2015). A signature Status from the Portrait Society of America where he has been a finalist and certificate of merit recipient in their international competitions on several occasions.
He has been a finalist in the OPA National, Regional and members competitions, the Salmagundi Club members and non-members competitions, the Allied Artists Competitions, the National Oil and Acrylic Painters National competitions, the Richeson Competitions, the Artist Magazine figurative art competitions, and the ARC International Salon Competitions, he won the Art Expo Solo Award, and has received an Honorable Mention in the Figurativas competition in Barcelona. Most recently, Ricky won the Florence and Ernest Thompson Memorial Award at the 103 Allied Artists Exhibition, and First Place at the Lore Degenstein Gallery of Susquehanna University Ninth Annual Figurative Drawing and Painting Competition.
He currently teaches at the acclaimed Art Students League of New York and has been on the teaching faculty at the Portrait Society of America. He has given demos and workshops on representational painting all over the world.
Ricky considers himself a humanist representational painter. The technique is influenced by Baroque masters like Rembrandt and Velasquez. His color model is influenced by Monet, Hawthorne and the 19th century ideas about retinal painting. The contextual ideas are influenced by 20th century modernist ideas, most specifically the Abstract Expressionists like Motherwell, Deibenkorn, and Kline. The subject matter is influenced by humanist painters like Kathe Kollwitz and Mary Cassat.
Ricky has lived in Africa, Norway, Germany, Mexico, France, Spain, Japan, England, Italy, and Australia.
The Artist's Statement
Ricky Mujica Artist Statement
“All the world is a stage, And all the men and women merely players, They have their exits and their entrances….” -Shakespeare-
Using an amalgam of procedures derived from the Formalism of 20th Century Abstract Expressionism, the retinal painting of 19th Century Impressionism, and the Objective light and form of 17th Century Baroque, and synthesized through the pictorial lens of a staged Shakespearean drama, my work seeks to demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells stories that exemplify the effects of cultural awareness over the latter half of the twentieth century. A time that presented us with a new humanism, with the sexual revolution, and with the women’s movement.
I mean to deconstruct the binaries we continually reconstruct between “Drama” and the “Usual”, between “Self” and the “Collective”, between “Life” and “Death”. By taking extraordinary yet collective moments of daily life as subject matter, and probing the rhythm that articulates the stream of extraordinary moments that are common to us all, and imbuing them with some of the aesthetics of live theater, and by placing it onto the canvas as stage, I attempt to seduce the viewer into taking a fresh look at the human condition.
I am searching for poetry of the extraordinary as it is embedded in the ordinary. Moments familiar to our collective existence are chosen and depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama and to clarify our existence.
“Mother” is very often depicted in these extraordinary events as the hero, the purveyor of life, the root of civilization. She is our collective conscience.
My work is often classified as part of the Novorealistic romantic movement in painting and sculpture because of the desire for the “natural” and the “sublime” in this increasingly cold technological world. This reference though not intentional, and not completely accurate, is welcome as this formal association opens a uniquely poetic association with my work.
The formal aspects of the work, the narrative of the paint, are inspired by a pre-photographic Baroque representation of light and form, and makes use of direct and indirect techniques such as impasto, glazing, scumbling, bravura, imprimatura, and sometime sfumato and velatura. However, the lessons of the following centuries are not ignored.
There is a two tiered approach to color. One tier is the 19th century objective color and the other is the 20th century formalist color. The objective color in my work is a journalistic approach based on Monet’s idea of “retinal color”. I attempt to paint the shapes, forms, and colors that return to our retina irrespective of what it is that we are painting.
The second tier is a 20th century formalist exploration of color as it relates to the picture plane deriving from the ideas developed by Hans Hoffman and Josef Albers.
The narrative of the paint, explores the masculinity of 20th century formalist ideas as seen through the work of Motherwell, DeKooning, Deibenkorn, and sometimes even Twombly, and is presented as a contrast to the femininity of the subject matter. A stark symbol that motherhood in my work is often presented from the outsider viewpoint of the male observer.
Every line, every tone, every color is important to the painting and carefully contemplated, regardless of how haphazard or how careful they look like they have been placed on the canvas. Sometimes the most haphazard, the most spontaneous looking strokes are the ones that have been hardest to arrive at because they must be integral to the work not be simply frivolous decoration. Only what is important to the dramatic narrative is rendered in objective detail while that which is only important to the paint narrative is painted in semi-symbolic detail.
I work from life whenever I can. I want the subject’s emotional life to contribute to the work. When it isn’t possible, I work from photos. But I never copy them mindlessly, nor do I make use of projection, tracing, or other mechanical methods. I always draw freehand because it allows the work to have my handwriting, my individuality, my humanity.
When I do work from photos, I work hard not to be shackled by the seductive, mechanical pseudo-perfection of the camera. I want imperfections. I want mistakes. I want people to know that a human did this.
I currently live and work in Montclair.