Polychromatic Fragmentism: Interview with Riccardo Liotta
Professionally trained and practicing as an architect, I have also been producing art inspired by physics, mathematics, and geometry, the foundation of my artwork.
Abstract art is characterized by dynamic, angular geometries, contrasting shapes, overlapping polychromatic polygons, vibrant colors, sharp lines, and graphics elements.
Derived from the application of mathematical formulas and geometric principles, it expresses concepts like speed, movement, and energy, reflecting the changing, unstable characteristics of nature, as well as the fragmentation, uncertainty and undeterminability of life.
Technically these compositions are influenced by Futurism, Rayonism, Constructivism, and Suprematism, but take inspiration from comics, graphic design, diagrams and photographs of particle collisions and electron microscopy.
Through continuous artistic research and development, and by learning/experimenting with different techniques, methods and tools, the art has evolved, becoming less rigid, less systematic, but more intuitive, gestural, fluid, and it is created by experimenting with figure-ground relationship, proportions, harmony, contrast, overlaps, layers, movement, and by analyzing and altering the behavior of colors, fields, shapes, lines and segments.
All my artwork, despite which diverse approaches it originates from, shares many common stylistic traits and characteristics, and belongs to a broad style I identify as "polychromatic fragmentism".
I find acrylic to be the medium that best expresses my ideas and theories. However, I also work with colored pencils and pastels, pen, markers and collage. I also extensively utilize the computer to generate patterns, shapes and compositions, and to alter/enhance paintings and drawings.
How did your artistic career start?
My career as an artist started in architecture illustration while working on my master in architecture. that is where I started painting and discovered acrylics.for my school projects and my thesis I began producing architectural paintings, but in a very abstract, interpretative way.
From there I transitioned to pure geometric, abstract compositions, gradually abandoning the architecture influence.
What is your studio practice like?
I am still a practicing architect, so I usually split the day between architecture and art. I typically work on my artwork in the afternoons and evenings. many days, having not much time to devote to an actual canvas or composition, I find myself working on smaller drawings, collages or mixed-media work, or just sketching. quite a bit of time is also spent on just creating and analyzing forms – painted, drawn or cut-out - that will either be used on or as starting points for actual compositions. I also spend a fair amount of time writing about my work process, or to analyze ideas.
You have such a specific style. How did you develop it?
my architectural thesis project was based on particle physics and quantum mechanics, the concepts of randomness, chance and probability, and the application of these principles to the design methodology. this, along with my interest in mathematics and geometry, led me to develop a series of mathematical/geometrical experiments that generated what I called the “eigencompositions”: analytical, polychromatic abstract compositions consisting of simplified yet very dynamic geometrical shapes, fields, lines and segments, derived from the superposition of different forms generated and arranged systematically by these experiments.
Later on, I started using new mathematical concepts and mechanisms to generate different compositions. I also had different opportunities to learn and experiment with a variety of techniques, methods, and tools that have allowed me - if not forced me - to diversifying my modus operandi and to generate art using new processes, different from the abovementioned systems.
All these approaches, along with continuous artistic research, evolved and developed into what my art is today: less rigid, less systematic, but more intuitive, gestural, fluid, also influenced by comics, graphic design, diagrams and photographs of particle collisions and electron microscopy.
What has been the most memorable moment of your artistic career thus far?
In recent months, my work is regularly being published in different magazines and catalogs, as well as being recognized by some of the most important art sale and collection sites. being invited by important galleries and art fairs to exhibit with them is also quite rewarding.
What first drew you to working with geometric shapes?
When I started painting, my artwork was related to or influenced by architecture. but my architectural projects were all based on mathematics, geometry and physics. so, directly or indirectly, that is always been the foundation of my work. but I also think it is all simply driven by my innate, genuine interest and fascination with geometry.
You use such bold colors in your work, how do you choose your palette for each piece?
At the early stages of composition it is very intuitive. typically, I already have a chromatic scheme in mind right from the beginning, derived from magazine clippings, a photograph, comics, graphic design, other artwork, or by simply sketching with color pencils. I then analyze these color combinations as the work progresses, to make sure they are right for the shapes and that they work as a whole, and add smaller amounts of complementary colors as I move along.
When starting a new piece do you typically have a plan or do you plan as you go?
I always have a plan as the starting point for each work, a way to generate the shapes and the relationships that make the composition.it could be a simple drawing – for example, a sketch of a piece done at a museum – a diagram, or a “spontaneous” assemblage of paper clippings and fragments that form an interesting whole. the main colors are also already loosely established.
As the work develops, through a variety of operations new shapes inevitably appear, some get altered, and others are hidden or eliminated.and so the original plan is constantly being modified until there is only some of it left. it’s a process where I let the composition take its natural course, but still within the parameters of the original plan.