What is your art about? From where is your inspiration born?
One of Ricardo’s canvases for the Pilsen Outpost show opening.
My style, as well as my techniques, have evolved, I do not have a favorite style, it always depends on the situation. I like and I enjoy playing with the concepts and words: the inspiration, in general, comes from the relation between man, nature, technology, and spirit, these 4 elements are always in my work. Lately, I have projected in my works the human behavior mixed with the stigma or stereotypes/meanings we have of some animals. An example of this is “Gallina y Huevos (Chicken and Eggs)” (a recent work). Chicken has always been fundamental in the people’s diet, even though in Mexico, at least, we relate as a symbol of cowardice, weakness, and inferiority (if someone calls you a chicken, it’s like when they call you a pussy, a coward or a wimp). The same work of art has the meaning of the eggs, but with two meanings: literally speaking, the word fertilized ovum of the hen from where a chicken is hatched and the hand signal that means a rude insult for Mexicans; contradictory also to “to have eggs” which means to be brave. I really like the intrinsic criticism and the management of indirect topics. I also like to be the spectator of direct art (without hidden meanings or without characters that do not exist in this reality) although I haven’t produced it yet.
Is this your first individual exhibit? How do you feel about it and what have you prepared for your public?
Yes, this is my very first exhibit and I feel thankful and in confidence with the public. Everyone has been really kind, and reciprocal; to me, this is very important because I like my work to be received with the same affection it was created by me for my public. I have always painted, but I haven’t had so many pieces together, to have them seemed odd to me. It has never been difficult for me to detach myself from the things I created or the things I had, as a child it became a part of growing up: I would paint a piece in my parent’s workshop and I couldn’t keep it because we had bills to pay; so that always motivated me to create an even better painting the next time. In this first exhibit that I really hope you will enjoy, the topic here is “TAMED” These are hybrids of animals/ humans showing a specific behavior; the fact is that tamed for me is a hard word, but we live it every day, freedom is conditioned, freedom is a mental state and for freedom to become physical we should make worldwide revolution of our lifestyle. Nobody should allow themselves to be tamed by anything or anybody.
What is your connection to Chicago?
Chicago is for me one of the most interesting cities in the USA, because of my parent’s job, I have traveled to different parts of the world but Chicago, specifically on the south side, has demonstrated to be a community. In Oaxaca, we all are a community and that’s reminiscent of my roots. Also because
I have found a family here, friends that I admire and I love. Not to mention there is a lot of art, architecture, and multiculturalism.
Why in Chicago and why Pilsen Outpost?
Pilsen was a good place to start for me. Everything I’m creating right now has a more realistic approach, and Pilsen gives me that opportunity. Pilsen Outpost is a gallery that supported me since the beginning. They are inclusive and they have renowned artists and emerging ones. In that space, they have workshops and the community joins them; that was really interesting for me. The mural I collaborated with Diske in Little Village and the next one will be in Back of the Yards. To be able to exhibit and paint the mural here, I decided to live on Chicago’s South Side, with Isabel and Arturo, friends I met in Oaxaca three years ago. I decided to produce here for several reasons, among them to be in context, to have direct experience and because if I stayed in Oaxaca, at home, I wasn’t going to be able to do it because I get distracted quite easily (he laugh out loud).
Collaborative mural by Ricardo Angeles and Diske Uno in Little Village for the Brown Wall Project. (The Gate/Gloria Talamantes)
What are the similarities and differences between the Mexican cultures here and there in Mexico?
The connection comes from the roots, the identity, the resistance and the nostalgia; this has created an environment in which you would think you’re in México but in another dimension; we have tried to create a Mexico with whatever we have, we have looked for alternatives to get closer to our land through our memories. The similarity that doesn’t change is the love and pride for the culture that we will always carry. The difference is the fact of not being there out of the necessity of being here, many times the necessity is economic or work-related.
What could we do in order to preserve and transmit the cultural traditions to new generations of Mexicans that arrive in the USA without the possibility to go back to their towns in Mexico?
As Mexicans, our roots are always present in everything we do. The point is to never stop transmitting our culture to the new generations. We can also look for organizations that support those who know how to make crafts, dance or any other occupation related to Mexico, that way we can create workshops for those who come or are born here.
What is the balance you are looking for when you are working with communities or institutions?
No matter the organization, if there is the initiative from any of them that wants to help foster the culture, in this case, the Mexican culture, we have to work hand in hand with it. That’s where real opportunities are created because we all work for them. I think that any support to art or culture must be seized, but something really important is that there is freedom for the artist when it comes to these opportunities.
How important is to have the artistic freedom to transmit your message to the public?
Very important. I think art and freedom go hand in hand. Art is a way of alternative education and overall it’s a claim of the unfair world we live in. That’s the reason art must be creative and different, it’s a living, informal way of transmission of knowledge. We shouldn’t create art just because of money, it loses the sense of freedom. Even though I understand sometimes money/income is a necessity for the artist to survive, they shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to show their proposal to move something else in people. Art without freedom causes me conflict, but I’m not against that kind of art that just looks pretty or good and follows a structure and established rules, still my art has nothing to do with it.