WAR ZONE Painting By Ricardo Jose Mujica
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
“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.
Ricardo Jose Mujica (b. 1961, NYC)
email@example.com | www.rickymujica.com 917-620-3220
- Parsons School of Design New School BFA
- Presidential Scholarship winner, Dean’s List (1979 – 1983)
- Parsons in Paris, Dean’s special scholarship winner (1982)
- The Old Hat Club, with Max Ginsburg and Irwin Greenberg (1976- 1979)
- High School of Art and Design, honor roll (1976 – 1979)
- 2019 Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Wausau Wisconsin
- 2019 Off-Screen Art Show , Brooklyn, NY
- 2019 Richeson Award 89th Annual Juried Show National Art League, NY
- 2019 Lawrence & Lydia Miniter Award , Ridgewood Art Institute, NY
- 2019 First Place (the Cadmium Award) in the October round of the TRAC2019, LA
- 2018 Family – A Journey – One Man Show , Montclair NJ
- 2018 Art Students League Instructors Exhibition , Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery, NYC, NY
- 2018 Academy of Realist Arts Figure Competition , Guild of Boston Artists Gallery, Boston, MA
- 2018 Botanical Gardens Plein Air Invitational , Bronx NY
- 2018 Portrait Society of America – Certicate of Merit, Washington DC
- 2018 Visual Arts Center 11th Biennial National Art Exhibition – Punta Gorda, Florida
- 2017 Lore Degenstein Ninth Annual Figurative Competition – 1rst Place, Selinsgrove, PA
- 2017 Poets and Artists Exhibition – Arcadia Gallery, Culver City, CA
- 2017 Allied Artists 103rd Exhibition – Florence and Ernest Thompson Memorial Award, NYC, NY
- 2017 Botanical Gardens Plein Air Invitational , Bronx, NY
- 2017 Art and Design Alumni Show – NYC, NY
- 2017 Salmagundi Club Members Show – NYC, NY
- 2016 Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition – Eisele Gallery – Cincinatti
- 2016 Portrait Society of America International Competition – Certificate of Merit – Washington DC
- 2016 Parsons School of Design 6 th Annual Alumni Exhibition – New School for Social Research – NYC, NY
- 2016 Allied Artists of America 103 rd Annual Exhibition – Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY
- 2016 The Emanuel Nine – Principle Gallery – Charleston, SC
- 2016 Plein Aire Invitational – Botanical Gardens – NYC, NY
- 2016 Portraits of My Friends (15 commissioned portraits) – Rachel Roy – NYC, NY
- 2015 International Portrait Society of America – Annual Conference Finalist – Atlanta, GA
- 2015 TRAC Winners – The Representational Art Conference – Ventura, CA
- 2015 Solo Show, Ricky Mujica – Palacio – Des Moines, IA
- 2014 Allied Artists of America – Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY
- 2014 23rd Ann. Nat. Jur. Exhib. OPA – Bennington Center for the Arts – Bennington, VT
- 2014 International Portrait Society of America – Annual Conference Finalist – Washington, DC
- 2014 Eastern Regional Juried Exhibition OPA – Eisele Gallery – Cincinnati, OH
- 2014 Salmagundi Annual Members Competition Show – Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY
- 2013 Group show – Roger Smith Hotel – Lexington Ave – NYC, NY
- 2012 Group Show Jason Samuel Gallery – Red Dot Fair – Miami, FL
- 2013 Salmagundi New Members Show – Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY
- 2012 Salmagundi Non-Members Show – Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY
- 2009 Work Period – Ginko Gallery – NYC, NY
- 2006 48th Ann. Soc. of Illustrators Exhib. – Museum of American Illustration – NYC, NY
- 2000 Permanent Collection – Leows Cinema – Chicago, IL
- 1999 Permanent Collection – Magic Johnson Theater – Atlanta, GA
- 1994 Starlighters – Sparkasse Gallery – Bochum, Germany
- 1992 Un Filet D’or – Cloitre de la Collegial – Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon, France
- 1992 Ricky Mujica – Forte Saint Andre – Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon, France
- 1992 American Artists Prof. League Grand Nat. Exhibition – Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY
- 1991 Group Show – Award winner – Art Students League – NYC, NY
- 1990 Group Show – O’keefe Center – Toronto, Canada
- 1990 Group Exhibition – Art Gallery of Ontario – Ontario, Canada
- 1992 Paintings for La Boheme – Brooklyn Conservatory of Music – Brooklyn, NY
- 1991 Painting for Handel’s Messiah – Brooklyn Conservatory of Music – Brooklyn, NY
- 1989 Society of Illustrators Annual Exhib. – Museum of American Illustration – NYC, NY
- 1988 Group Show – Grand Central Art Galleries – NYC, NY
- 1987 Solo Show – Oval Gallery, World Trade Center – NYC, NY
- 1987 New York Convention Center – Department of Cultural Affairs – NYC, NY
- 1987 American Artists Professional League Grand National Exhibition – NYC, NY
- 1987 Watercolors Solo Show – Takanawa Prince – Tokyo, Japan
- 1987 Paperback: The 4×7 Image – Museum of American Illustration – NYC, NY
- 1986 Solo Show – Studio 26 – Oslo, Norway
- 1985 All the Comforts of Home, cur. by Paul Smith & Stacie Teele – Kamikaze – NYC, NY
- 1985 Watercolor Landscapes solo exhib. – Civic Center – Empangeni, South Africa
- 1985 Watercolor Landscapes solo exhib. – Veldenvlei Com. Hall – Veldenvlei, South Africa
- 1985 Watercolor Landscapes solo exhib. – Jewel Centre – Johannesburg, South Africa
- 1985 Hispanic Heritage Week of Cultural Arts – Oval Gallery, World Trade Center – NYC, NY
- 1984 Dominican Artists of New York – Dep. of Cultural Affairs – City Gallery – NYC, NY
- 1988 Celebration of Unity – Group show (including Keith Haring) – Palladium – NYC, NY
- 1983 Soc. of Illustrators Student Exhib. – Museum of American Illustration – NYC, NY
- 1982 Landscapes – Les Eyzies – Dordogne, Southern France
- 1979 Industrial Arts Teachers Assoc. – Youth Comm. – Walt Whitman Hall – NYC, NY
- 1979 Center for the Humanities Show of scholarship winners – NYC, NY
- 1979 Group Show – VAGA – One World Trade Center – NYC, NY
Illustration (1983 – 1992, 2002 – 2015)
Harlequin, Avon Books, Harper Collins, Bantam, Dell/Doubleday, Simon and Schuster, Little Brown Books, New York Times Magazine, New York Times, Daily News , El Diario, Ebony Magazine, Leo Burnett Advertising Agency, Alfred A. Knopf, Scholastic Books, E.P. Dutton, Atheneum Books, Simon and Schuster, Cherry 7-up
National Art League Richeson Award | 2019 First Place (the Cadmium Award) the October round of the TRAC2019 | Lore Degenstein Ninth Annual Figure Competition (Best in Show) | The Florence and Ernest Thompson Memorial Award | Allied Artists Exhibition | TRAC2015 April 2015 Cadmium Award winner | The Artist’s Magazine 33rd Annual Art Competition finalist | ARC (Art Renewal Center) finalist several times | National Portraits Society Members Competition 2nd place (twice) | National Portraits Society Members Competition 4th place | National Portraits Society Members Competition 7th place | Oil Painters of America – Certificate of Merit (three times) | The Richeson Art Competition finalist | Allied Artist Competition finalist (twice) | Salmagundi National Competition finalist (twice) | Portraits Society of America International Competition finalist (three times) | Portraits Society of America exceptional merit winner (twice) | Figurativas, Barcelona (special mention) | 48th annual Society of Illustrators certificate of merit | National Oil and Acrylic Painters Competition best narrative and narrative excellence | Industrial Arts teachers Association Youth Commission – achievement incentive award | Center for the Humanities – scholarship in the arts | Presidential Scholarship | Art Expo 2012 – solo award | American Watercolor Society Competition – honorable mention | Portrait Society of America Signature Status
International Artist magazine | Artists Magazine | Art Business News – top 50 emerging artists | Daily News | El Diarrio | Paperback Parade | WNEW – Dominican Artists of New York | Underpaintings Magazine | Artists Magazine, New York Magazine | Fine Art Connoisseur | Artists, Showcase Magazine “Meet 50 Fascinating Artists” | Art Renewal Center Blog (“The Power of Representational Art Conference 2015”) | Cosmopolitan | Women Daily Magazine
UPS | Sony Theaters | Magic Johnson Theaters | Starlighthalle Germany | High School of Art and Design | Teatro Polanco | Mexico City | Rachel by Rachel Roy | State Theater | Chicago | Fox Theater – St. Loius
Art Student’s League Faculty | Chelsea Art Studios | Portrait Society of America Faculty | Altos de Chavon at Parsons School of Design
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I'm on the home stretch! Can't wait to finish this one. Got to make sure that I remember to sign it before I varnish it! LOL. Not sure what to call it yet but I would love to hear your suggestions on a title for this one! When I'm actually finished with this one, and I varnish it, I will definitely be posting process shots. #Realism #representationalart #rickymujicaartist #rickymujica #mhoilpaints #mhpaintembassor
Ricky Mujica shares his tips for artists
What subject matter do you love to paint? What tips for artists do you look for to inspire you? Maybe it’s going outdoors and painting en plein air or to a crowded marketplace. Each artist has to find their own source of inspiration and motivation as they travel on their artistic journey – for Ricky Mujica – it’s all about family.
Ricky is an award-winning artist whose work appears in collections all around the world including Africa, Norway, Germany, and Mexico. His paintings have been exhibited at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, The Bennington Museum of Art, The Salmagundi Club, the Museum of American Illustration and is in the permanent collection of the Portrait Society of America.
Drawing from a wide range of artists, Ricky has forged his own creative path that is clear and distinct. While constantly honing his technical skills, Ricky also has an eye for the human experience – capturing scenes full of heart and emotion. I can’t wait for you to hear from Ricky’s unique and fascinating perspective – you might even catch a few helpful tips for artists he passes along the way.
Painting power – ARtist Inspiration
Who did you idolize when you were younger? Did you look up to an older sibling or maybe one of your parents? From great warriors to majestic mountains, artists throughout time have been drawn to powerful subjects. Ricky Mujica started painting scenes with mothers because he was drawn in by their power – the power to create life and sustain it.
In our conversation, Ricky was kind enough to share a fascinating story about why he painted an image of his wife breastfeeding their child on a subway – simply put – he was in awe. Hearing from Ricky, you really get the sense that he seeks to capture the essence of the moment in his paintings. And that is one of the best tips for artists you can get- knowing why you paint what you paint!
other tips for artists: OPPA
Let’s face it, life as an artist isn’t for the faint of heart – we go through a lot! We also get the profound privilege of honing our craft and showing the world what we see through our creative eye. In the midst of these difficult times with COVID-19 – I wanted to see what insights and advice a seasoned artist like Ricky had to share for those of us going stir crazy at home.
In our conversation, Ricky shared his advice for artists – a painting method he calls OPPA. Before each stroke of the brush, Ricky goes through the OPPA formula.
Observe – Be a detective, look around for clues that will inform your painting.
Plan – Wait and plan your stroke – don’t go on autopilot, be deliberate.
Put it down – Don’t wait too long, put something down on the canvas or paper.
Assess – Is it right? Did you miss anything that you need to change? Take an honest look.
As deliberate and planned out as Ricky’s approach seems, this is just the first pass. Ricky will often take a second, third and fourth pass before he is ready to continue. What can you learn from Ricky’s approach? Do you have a formula you’ve created over the years? What tips for artists do you have?