It is a fact that the very
nature of art is antithetical to commodification; thus, the struggle
for survival, common to humanity, is part and parcel of humanity and,
certainly, a self-defining characteristic of one’s art. I see
security, respectability, fame, and success as obstructions to one’s
sense of commonality; and, reactions to events can only be the
conditioning of each individual’s wishes to disintegrate: I
speak to the notions of fear, territoriality, ownership, and
nationality, as being divisive influences which anyone may opt to
Born into a middle-class family in Valencia, Venezuela,
I came to the United States in 1972 and was naturalized as an
American citizen in 2001. My interest in art stems from early
childhood. Formally I started, at the age of seven in my hometown of
Valencia, my studies at the Escuela de Bellas Artes Arturo
Michelena. Later in my teens I trained at a private atelier for
a couple of years with the Hungarian painter Lazlo Lenyel.
After completing the Venezuelan baccalaureate in
humanities from the Colegio La Salle (secondary school) in
1972, my parents sent me to study in the United States. I began
taking art classes both at the State University of New York, Buffalo, and Villa Maria College (also in Buffalo).
During the academic year 1974-75 and the academic year 1976-77 I
resided back in Venezuela, where I studied privately with the Spanish
artist José Luis Montero. In 1975-76 I returned to Buffalo
under the tutelage of Professor Herta Kane at SUNY Buffalo and
James Jipson at Villa Maria College. By this time I had begun
to amass a large portfolio of works. In May 1976 I had my first
one-man show: “Artworks by Ricardo Morin” at Villa
Maria College Gallery. In 1977 the Ministry of Education of Venezuela awarded me a full scholarship to complete a B.F.A. at SUNY Buffalo where I majored in studio painting. I was
graduated summa cum laude in May 1980. Before graduation, my
thesis show “Buffalo Series 1979” was curated by, Seymour
Drumlevitch at the Alamo Gallery of the State University of New
York at Buffalo. In March of 1980 I submitted a nonobjective
abstract painting, Buffalo Series Nº 1, 1980 , to the 38th Western New York Show at
the Albright Knox Art Gallery of Buffalo, and it took the
prize in painting: Birge Wall Covering and the Reed Foundation
Award. In June of 1980, I had my second
one-man show, Buffalo Series 1980 at Hallwalls
Gallery, Buffalo, NY.
From the City of Salzburg, when I
attended stage-design seminars given by Gunther Schneider Siemsen in
1979 at the Internationale
Sommerakademie für Bildende Kunst Salzburg (International
Summer Academy of Fine Arts Salzburg), I received the Förderungspreis
Leistung der Stadt Salzburg.
Seymour Drumlevitch, my then academic adviser at SUNY
Buffalo, felt I had matured
sufficiently as a painter and recommended I apply to the M.F.A.
program offered by Yale University,
School of Drama (Design Department).
My M.F.A in set-design at Yale was funded by the Venezuelan
Government’s full scholarship Gran
Mariscal de Ayacucho. A determining
factor for my electing a career path as a set designer was in part
due to my confidence that I could survive the demands of the New York
City art scene if I had also the attendant commercial skills. The
degree was subsequently taken secundi
honoris in May 1983.
My first five years after having
been graduated from Yale, I worked in New York City as a struggling
nonunion Off-off-off Broadway set designer with Irene Fornes and Max Ferra at INTAR Theater. I
supplemented my income as a principal assistant to established
Broadway designers (Robin Wagner, David Mitchell, Tony Walton, Santo
Loquasto, et al.). In 1988, I managed to obtain a lease for a
working loft in Tribeca, where I continued painting in large formats.
In 1988, I entered the “Artist in the Market Place”
the Bronx Museum of the Arts, which
in 1989. Thereafter, I had my first one man show in New York City at the Galería Venezuela on
East 51st Street in September of 1992.
Owing to AIDS, I had to go on
disability in 1993; sadly this meant giving up my Tribeca
studio-space. Believing medical attention was to be in vain, I chose
refuge with my family in Venezuela. I abandoned both medical
coverage and all previous commercial pursuits. I felt only basic
needs demanded attention; guided by my own intuition, I was active
and expressive in my own environment, and visual expression came to
be the stabilizing factor in the process of convalescence.
Between 1993 and 1996 my health declined and my body
withered, yet I began a series of contemplative paintings entitled
“Aposentos” (Blankets). The second painting in
this series, Aposento Nº 2 was selected for the “XIV Salón Municipal de Pintura:
Homenaje a Carlos Cruz Diez, 1994,” Galería Municipal
de Arte [City Hall, Maracay, Venezuela].
I volunteered to work in social services at this time
for Fundación Metaguardia, which I had both
created and directed. Metaguardia was an informational and
educational center in Valencia to help people suffering from terminal
illness--particularly, though not exclusively, for those who were
also indigent. The foundation considered compassion and cooperation
as the highest form of intelligence in support of the afflicted. The
goal was to create therapies that involved the concept of a
psychological revolution through the arts, which paralleled pro bono services by participating physicians. Though the foundation only endured from 1994 to 1996 (it
could not survive the economic woes of Venezuela’s collapsing
economy), it remains a topic of conversation in my artistic
With the arrival of the Anti-Retroviral Cocktail in 1996, my T-Cell count was practically nonexistent, though a
sort of radical inertia had strengthened my sense of internal peace
and quiet. I returned in December of 1996 to New York to obtain the
new treatments as well as the disability benefits provided by
Medicare accorded by my status as a legal US resident. Otherwise
benefits were not available in Venezuela, because I had no previous
work history there. After having reestablished medical coverage in
New York City, I was homeless, though I was certain of eventually
finding subsidized housing. Indeed, I went from the transitional Hotel Paradise at 2395 Grand Concourse in the Bronx (3 months
in 1997) to the assisted-living Time Square Hotel at 255 W.
43rd St.--between Broadway and 8th Ave—(4 years till 2001), to
my current subsidized one bedroom apartment (9 years to the present).
I managed to continue painting in all the spaces available. Between
2002 and 2003 I attended classes at the Art Student League in order
to have ample room to expand my work. I met my life partner in 2000,
who allowed me to use his one-bedroom apartment in Jersey City as a
painting studio--where I have worked until the present.
In September 1998 support came via
the New York Visual AIDS
Organization, which curated a
one-man show based on portraiture in watercolors and oils along with
another member, Nicolo Cataldi, at Saint Mark’s Church. I have had also numerous
opportunities to participate in group shows, both in alternative
spaces as well as on the web--most recently: Exhibit "In the
Flesh," curated by Hong Kong artist Jo-ey Tang, February 2009,
and Mr. Tang called my paintings of the early nineties “visual love letters to New York City.” Though nominal
and symbolic gestures of support, I have received three material
grants from Visual AIDS at various times during the last seven years.
In 2000 I received a VESID Rehabilitation
Grant including high-end software and computer equipment to complete
a certificate in Maya (a
digitally immersible three-dimensional environment and related
digital software) from the Advanced Center for Digital Applications
at New York University, as well as a certificate in Auto-Cad from the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at New York
University. The compendium of these courses has enabled me to use
the computer as a painting medium, which is particularly reflected in
my 2006-09 Series of Platonic Interactions.
Between 2000 and 2003 I also used the computer in combination with
the watercolor and drawing medium to explore the nature of visual
infinity, by reinterpreting Persian Miniatures of the 15th century, deconstructing, and reconstructing them as a single movement
of expression in the confluence of abstract geometry. From 2003 to
2005 I expanded on questions dealing with perspectives synthesizing
concepts of pictorial space and infinity.
The process of geometrization of gesture became the basis of my
paintings which I equated with reaching for the infinite: the
mystery and the poetry in one’s individual drama. From 2005 to
the present, I have also served as an adjunct professor at Manhattan
Pratt Institute, where I teach a course
entitled Pictorial Perspective. I designed this course, a survey of methodologies from the
Renaissance to the present on perspective drawing, for students of
architecture: Its focus is infinity as an art form.
from 2006-2009 Triangulation
Series’ Manifesto came into being:
painterly abstraction/plasticity to express both in form and content
a kind of art that goes beyond a material world of signs. I choose
the golden ratio 1 = 1618 as a consistent format for nonobjective
abstraction which is clearly inherent of infinite congruency [a
manifestation common to all known perspective methodologies], to
breakdown a dialogue on the fluidity of the vehicle of painting and
its geometry. At the same time, I establish a triangulation of the
bare plane of the canvas which reaffirms its paradoxical nature as an
object: where the fictitious flatness of the plane plays in
suspension with the illusory spatial depth of forms expressed on it.
Though immersed in 20th-century aesthetics, I strive neither for a
specific historical movement nor for the postmodernist agenda.
Simply, I look at making art as a "fleshy" product of human
experiencing, a resultant of the maker’s own passion. Just as
the idiosyncrasy of an individual, indivisible in nature, is blind to
causality, an aesthetic frame embraces all its senses and the image
is only the result or residue. Nonobjective,
timeless, or even existential—in this sense—the image or Kunstgegenstand seeks not to explain what the meaning of experience is; rather, the
image manifests itself, provoking interpretation from the observer.
The finished work stands on its own as a concentration of multiple
layers; each of the numerous strata is essential to the completeness.
There is a sense of multidirectional movement in each of the works
that acts on the viewer’s eye as he/she glances over the
delineated shapes and peers through the entanglements of strokes and
arabesques. The viewer comes away, I hope, with the sense of the
works’ generative completeness of a universe making and
remaking itself [excerpt from my Blog 05/02/2008].
completing chemotherapy in 2008 for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma [associated with AIDS], I began to suffer from circumstantial--yet
systemic--conditions of tendonitis, which kept me from stretching my own canvases. Having already explored the hanging
scroll format as an alternative to stretching formats in my Triangulation Series of years prior,
I came to understand how the material and its application behaved in
its simplest of terms, as well as what were the limitations of the
medium vis-à-vis my own physical limitations, particularly
after having had to convalesce for many months. It was during this
high state of inertia that I realized how powerful and intelligent
“silence” was as compared with all the noise and visual
cacophony of the tangible world at large. Well aware of this vibrant
energy, of its vitality, as a mirror of one’s apperception or
of one’s perceptions of reality in absolute quietness, it was
then that the incidental simplicity of the medium and that my own
conception of form facilitated empathy for the nature of silence as
Between 2009 and 2010, I begin to work on the current
new hanging scroll series, Metaphors of Silence.
An excerpt of its manifesto reads as follows:
The verbalization of
an aesthetic reality implies its own death; no matter how precise,
the very accuracy of words resists the magnitude of that reality.
Seeing the actuality
of art may never take place if born in a spirit fragmented by the
illusion of newfangled formulas, immured by gratification or condemnation, pleasure
sustained by thought: the avarice of a prejudiced observer; nor is
it derived from a contradicting eccentric stimuli in order to draw
attention to itself, but it is found in the open space of silence, in
the virtuous stillness of a meditative contemplation, in the freedom
itself of the known, free to observe with a heightened attention,
where questions are unnecessary and responses trivialize the very
observation. This aesthetic is not the product of experience,
neither the association with the past nor the search for an audience,
nor the product of a prevailing market. These fluids are not even
aware or unaware; they neither propagate an effort for fulfillment
nor are they the product of an egotistic and vain ritual of choice.
These fluids are manifestations common to all of us, that which
define us beyond ideas and words, that which operates creatively
without dependence to the noise of knowledge, that which is not
suited to measurements or labels, wherein obscurity itself allows the
spread of its vital energy to push forth beyond the bondage of the
known. It is
creation in living, one’s own awakening and renewal in every
relation, if one is to join in the whole movement of life [excerpt
from my blog 11/24/2010].
At present, I am
collaborating on an experimental art/anthropology-research
project with Dr. Andrew Irving of
the University of Manchester, UK., supported by a grant from
the Wenner Gren Foundation entitled “New York Stories” --
see full description in the Biography link under “Projects.” My
collaborative role is to define, in a chronotopic approach, a
biographical journey that is both associated
with the nature of silence and its impact on one’s sense of
Ultimately to be a true artist, one needs to be anonymous. One is not fully whole by allowing oneself to be bound by desires or ambition, dependence or conformity. But one can be true to oneself wherever life leads.