SILVERMAN and Hamilton Square Condominium Association present
Laurie Riccadonna: Whisper and Scurry of Small Lives
Opening Reception: Friday, June 3, 2011, 6 to 8 p.m.
Curated by Brendan Carroll
Hamilton Square Condominium
232 Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Exhibition on view in the lobby June 3, 2011 to September 2, 2011
SILVERMAN is pleased to present Laurie Riccadonna: Whisper and Scurry of Small Lives, a new exhibition of paintings and related pieces for her first solo show at Hamilton Square Condominiums.
In 2005, Laurie Riccadonna attended the Fundación Valparaiso, an artist residency, in Mojácar, Spain. This residency, which serves as a retreat for artists, proved to be a seminal moment in her creative maturation. She had time to paint, draw, and ruminate over the valley and surrounding olive groves; she traveled to Seville, Málaga, Córdoba, and Granada, and a variety of small hill towns and villages along the Mediterranean coastline. As she journeyed from city to city, she had the opportunity to see countless examples of Spanish and Moorish architecture, design, and ornamentation. The architecture of the Andalusian region—specifically the ceramic mosaic tiles covering mosques, citadels, and palaces—left a profound impact on the artist’s imagination. Although she was familiar with Moorish design from books and museums, when Riccadonna experienced it up close—standing before the tiled prayer niche inside the Great Mosque or walking down the narrow alleyways of the Albaicin quarter—she gained a more complex understanding of pattern, space, and rhythm. Riccadonna made dozens of studies from these mosaics, drawing and re-drawing their abstract floral and geometric forms.
Riccadonna identifies similar motifs and patterns in the natural world. A summerhouse in the Adirondacks allows her time to meander along mountain trails, exploring floral and fauna indigenous to the Northeast. No step is for naught. No moment goes unnoticed. A bunch of honeysuckle she walked past in May could eventually reappear in a painting made in December. Lincoln Park in Jersey City plays a vital role in her studio practice too. In particular, she is drawn to the wetland “reclamation area” in the back of the park. This area is nestled beneath the sprawling behemoth of the Pulaski Skyway, and the contrast between the natural world and the industrial landscape is an influence on her work. “Last year on a particularly gray day, I was in the wetland area and saw a gorgeous white swan in the water. It was so stunning in the landscape, and I think of it often when I am working,” she says.
Riccadonna’s paintings predominantly consist of stylized abstract and naturalistic vegetal forms. Her orchestration of vegetal patterns is reminiscent of the Islamic mosaics and Persian illuminated manuscripts that she saw in southern Spain. She places these organic patterns and forms in compact sections that bob and weave throughout the composition. Colors and patterns advance and recede in a never-ending ebb and flow. The common motifs punctuating her imagery include cherry blossoms, lilies, violets, and roses, to name a few. Vertical and horizontal bands, which resemble the bark of a tree, restrain the explosion of plant life.
Moorish architecture and the natural world are not Riccadonna’s only source of inspiration. She also finds motivation in literature, in particular, magical realism. She says: “Sometimes it’s just a sentence from a single story which inspires a painting.” For example, this passage from the novel The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy informed her painting Latitude 44.5:
“The old house on the hill wore its steep, gabled roof pulled over its ears like a low hat. The walls, streaked with moss, had grown soft, and bulged a little with dampness that seeped up from the ground. The wild, overgrown garden was full of the whisper and scurry of small lives.”
It is easy to understand why Riccadonna enjoys Roy. The author’s prose is definite, concrete, and evocative; it creates an imaginary world in broad strokes and gemlike detail. As a reader, you can envision the powerful hands of nature strangling the “old house” in a slow-motion death grip, crushing its larynx under the weight of moss, dampness, and overgrowth. In her paintings, Riccadonna employs the same attention to detail to paint the knobby skin of a tree that Roy uses to describe the fetid condition of a house. The style of the prose is not the only characteristic Riccadonna appreciates. This passage also “beautifully articulates aspects growth and decay” that is a central theme in the artist’s current work. Riccadonna knows nature can bequeath life as quickly as it can extinguish it.
Riccadonna works on a painting one at a time. The work is labor intensive: a large painting may take up to six months to complete. She typically draws the lattice and overall structure of the painting first. After she arranges the patterns and imagery on the canvas, she begins to work more intuitively. She admits to being methodical, but she does not allow it to stifle her creativity. The imagery usually changes and evolves as she works. Riccadonna says: “I use the canvas as a record of my thoughts as I make the painting. Typically each painting is referencing a particular time of year, place, or memory, so although I am very specific with the imagery, I also try to allow the painting to evolve and change as I work. I provide myself with a structure and then allow myself to deviate from that.”
Color is an essential component in Riccadonna’s work as well. Some ideas for the imagery are based on the palette that she is using at the time of painting, but the overall color scheme of a painting grows and changes over time. For example, she may brush in a broad expanse of color on a section of the composition in order to determine what color to use next. One other characteristic to note in Riccadonna’s paintings is her use periwinkle blue. She reserves key sections of canvas for this hue. These oases of pure color serve two functions: They offer a brief respite amid the symphony of patterns, and they sparkle alongside a brown/gray palette.
Riccadonna earned her Master of Fine Arts in Painting/Printmaking from Yale University School of Art and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting/Drawing from the Pennsylvania State University. Riccadonna shows her work regularly in solo and group exhibitions, and her work is included in a variety of private and corporate collections. Currently a coordinator/assistant professor of fine art at Hudson County Community College, Ms. Riccadonna has been the recipient of numerous awards such as: Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship (3), NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship, and Yale University’s Ely Harwood Schless Prize.
~ Brendan Carroll, Curator
The exhibition will be on view at The Hamilton Square Condominiums through September 2, 2011. For further information, please visit us at SilvermanBuilding.com or contact Liz Dempsey, Executive Assistant, at 201-435-8000 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This event is part of JC Fridays.
Laurie Riccadonna: Whisper and Scurry of Small Lives is the second exhibition that Brendan Carroll will organize for SILVERMAN.
SILVERMAN has presented the works of Tim Daly, Ann Flaherty, Scott Taylor, Jason Seder, Sara Wolfe, Beth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tom McGlynn, Victoria Calabro, Asha Ganpat, Darren Jones, Ryan Roa, Laura Napier, Risa Puno, Nyugen E. Smith, Amanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.