By Heidi Pan and K.G. Ricci
K.G. Ricci’s collage, and the band played on, looks something of the shape of a maple leaf. Its asymptotic curves approach unidentified limits in the vast artificial blackness of the digital backdrop, faded images pasted together into a medley of singed tones. Many of Ricci’s collages are granted a certain surreality through darker gradients that disperse the harder borders of each collage, and the half-shadows scattered across the edges of the composition dip corners into shapelessness. The rest seems to breach outward from an unseen, inner focus with startling clarity. Lonely figures often populate the Ricci's abstractions; men or women from grainy, black-and-white photos that seem at odds with their surroundings. Monochrome against glossy magazine photos of skyscrapers or stairwells or pale, MoMA style interiors. Ricci’s artwork feels similarly displaced, offset from its surroundings, solid and static in the clean dark vacuum of something like space, pixelated void bleeding through the LCD. It defines a feeling that is not really quite loneliness, because there were never others– and there will never be.
K.G. Ricci is a self-taught NYC artist who has been creating collages for the past seven years. In that time his work has evolved from the larger 24x48 panels to 7x10 books and most recently to a series of 18x24 collages on cardboard titled Incongruities. His work has been in gallery exhibitions throughout the country, and he has appeared in numerous on-line exhibitions. You can read his commentary on his work below!
K.G.'s commentary on "Chasing the Dragon" and "And the Band Played On"
My work is not a product of inspiration or the execution of a preconceived idea –it is rather a result of improvised assembly of parts that in the end must strike the right chord, which for me, has become the presentation of a narrative.
The whole idea of a “narration” in my artwork is something that has evolved over time. I do not have any formal art education and everything I learned about art has come from working in the Art Dept. of the Strand Bookstore in NYC. It was there I absorbed the work of Bosch, de Chirico, Romare Bearden and George Tooker. The idea of a ‘story line or narration’ as an integral element of the visual engagement by the viewer is one that aligned with my literary leanings.
As I reflect on the trajectory of my work, I can see when and how the narrative feature took hold in the composition and how it has morphed into an essential character of the work itself. In keeping with the literary analogy, I look at my very early large 24 x 48 collages as a visual “stream of consciousness” where visual associations underlie the makeup of a composition without direction, character, story, or sense of place. My initial collages made sense internally but didn’t engage with the viewer.
When I began to work on smaller, 8 x 24 panel boards, the rectangular shape itself began to lend itself to a “reading” of the piece from left to right. This is when I started to purposefully title my work with the intent of creating a context with which the viewer can have a directed engagement with the collage. The title became essential, and I began to attach the title with a hinge on the frame of each panel. These titles eventually became parts of a series: Femma Dilemma, Hotel Kafka, 3:43AM, at/rt. The titles began to create the narrative idea.
I first introduced text into my collages when I was creating a work titled “Book/Page/Image/Text” which was a bound book format in which the text was the title of each collage/page. This opened the format that I would make use of for the next three projects. I began to assemble my collages against black paper so that the image and text were presented in compelling contrasts. I limited myself to the use of three elements- a constructed environment, a human gesture, and text - to create a visual story.
This brings me to the current series of 18x24 “Incongruities,” which include “Chasing the Dragon” and “The Band Played On.” In each piece, I rely on the dramatic human gesture against an imagined landscape to initiate the narrative line. The viewer is basically asked to contextualize the visual by using the text as a directive. The “narration” is short and in keeping with literary leanings I think of the collages as a visual “flash fiction” prompt. If the prompt effectively moves the viewer to engage with the piece, then my creative efforts are realized– the story (collage) is their own.
My work is not personal or autobiographical in any way but rather seeks to address the “condition” we all share and that bring me to one of my favorite quotes by Kierkegaard– “I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.”