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Home & Abroad: New Works by Ricardo Roig

September 20 - November 1, 2015

Since his last solo show at the Hoboken Museum three years ago, a lot has happened for Ricardo Roig: He married his sweetheart and muse, Michelle, and together the couple has bought a small commercial space on Hoboken's 1st Street and have opened up their own showroom and art gallery, Roig Gallery. He is entering his fourth year teaching elementary art full time, and he also finds time to produce a prodigious number of new artworks, mostly in hand-cut screen prints. He brings a selection of recent images of his adopted hometown of Hoboken for an exhibit on view from Sept. 20 through Nov. 1, with an opening reception on Sept. 20 from 4 - 6 p.m.

"Hand cut screen printmaking is natural for me, it speaks to my art and my life," he says. "It allows my personal aesthetic and personality to shine. I love living a busy life, but it causes me to compartmentalize in order to offer the most of myself, and my abilities. Hand cut screen printing speaks to this compartmentalization through breaking down images to basic shapes and grouping them in terms of color."

He feels more control over his artistic vision with hand-cut screen prints, which he creates from color shapes that begin and end where he wants them to, while enjoying the beautiful struggle that is art. "Art is my mental health, it allows me to answer abstract intellectual pursuits to fill my curiosity," he explains. "Hand-cut screen printing provides a never-ending balancing act between what you envision and what is the result, which allows me to enjoy this unique printmaking process. The almost zenlike process of cutting shapes of paper and layering allows me time to reflect on the beauty that envelopes us all and allows me to celebrate it."

When he was in art school a friend told him that screen printing would be a good fit for his hard-edged, colorful, contrasted painting style. It wasn't until years later that he would investigate this media, but he really hasn't turned back since then. He enjoys oil painting as well, but he finds something exciting in the process of laying down the exact color he wants in multiple places within an image, rapidly and simultaneously. "For instance, when painting, you need to recharge your color each time, and with every brushstroke, color is blended," he says. He also enjoys the multiplicity and variation within repetition that screen printing offers. "With each print, I can try to get a better print or registration, it's more forgiving than oil paint. Hand-cut screen printing is a great balance between emotion and process."

It's also a lot of work. "I might be the only hand-cut screen printer in the world doing this many layers per print," he says. "It is also very important to differentiate yourself and your process as an artist today and I'm lucky that it has been a natural ride that, although painful, I'm continuing to enjoy."

That's another variable within the hand-cut screen printing process, it is very hands-on and corporal. "You really get a sweat going while running the squeegee that many times, especially in my more recent larger sizes, and cutting with the Xacto blade leads to stress on the wrists. When my body hurts too much, I move to painting to give myself some rest."

He's largely self-taught in his printing technique. "The only teaching I received for my method of screen printing lasted a few hours back in 2007, he says. "Since then I have really just been learning as I go and experimenting with the medium. I've manage to coach myself to use a new large format as well as learn to use transparencies within my work." He explains how he achieves a degree of luminosity by laying down a foundation or an under color and then put a thin layer of color over it so that the layering creates a new third color. For example, a layer of white and a layer of thin red would create pink when registered atop one another. Future experimentation will incorporate more texture in his work and he is intrigued by the possibilities of using reflective paints.

He draws inspiration from the students he teaches every day in elementary school. "These young artists are so full of creative energy that it inspires my life and makes its way into my artwork," he says. Another source of inspiration is his travel. "Recently we visited Spain and several museums in Barcelona and Madrid. Picasso’s paintings from 1900-1901 where he uses gorgeous brushwork with contrasted colors, as in "Margot," really have been inspiring me recently." This summer the couple visited Madrid, Greece and a few days in Barcelona.

"My last name comes from Catalunya and it was great to connect with my cultural roots. We visited galleries, museums and really took in the art everywhere we went. As an artist, art teacher and now gallery owner, it is important to see what is going on with art in a larger scale, and to gain a clearer perspective. Travel is a necessity as an artist. You need to get out of your comfort zone and embrace change through rich experiences. After all, if you want your art to be alive--you need to be out there experiencing it."

The exhibit is supported by a block grant from the State/County Partnership program for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Division of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.

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