Toronto native, Anthony Ricciardi is as multi-talented as his art is inspiring. Ricciardi is known for his unique use of colour and polychromatic mixing, despite being completely colorblind and now you can experience his art in an interactive (and totally Instagram-able!) pop up in Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall from April until July.
Ricciardi wanted to have an open gallery format, taking small pieces from his paintings and bringing them to life in an immersive way. He believes in following your dreams and has worked with dream catchers, and included dreamy, aspirational messages in his works, so when creating Dream Space for Yorkdale Mall, he tells us he wanted to play along those same lines.
Faze: Can you tell us what art and creativity have meant to you, especially being colour-blind?
Anthony: I think that my whole life I’ve been creative. I think that having a creative outlet is important for everyone, for me it’s art, but it could be music, photography, writing, poetry, whatever it may be, is something beautiful to have and for my whole entire life art has always been an outlet for me. You know when I came from an athletic background to working in finance, for me art was just an outlet for nights and weekends. I can paint and enjoy myself and detach myself from everyday 9 to 5, and then it finally was able to take over and become my full time job.
Creativity for me is everything, I think that the more that we create, the more creative we become if that makes sense. And being colour-blind, I think it helps a little bit in terms of the depth and layers to my paintings because each painting that I create, I can’t rush it and I can’t blend colours, so I add my yellow and let it dry, I add my blue or my green or whatever colours I want to use, but because each has to dry before I add the next colour, it adds a lot of depth and texture to the piece.
I had the old gallery here in Yorkdale, which is just around the corner, and everyone wanted to touch, feel, take pictures and interact with them, so we were like, why don’t we actually make that space? When you take a photo here for example [photo below], it looks like you’re in the painting the way the depth happens. I wanted to create that.
Faze: You have a very distinct style can you tell us about how you found it or if it developed over time or has always been your style?
Anthony: It definitely developed over time. My whole life, I’d been painting, but over the last about five years, very seriously, and during that time I went through many different phases in my work, I went through abstracts, all head paintings, to now I have this very fun and original combination of the both. So, where the base layers of every one of my paintings is an abstract base, and then I’ll add recognizable imagery from pop culture and mix media on top of that, and then blend it all together. I’ve added that pop culture in as I’ve grown older.
I’ve looked at different people for inspiration, whether it be pop culture figure or celebrity, even someone like Benjamin Franklin. I don’t truly know much about him as a person, but I know what the $100 bill stands for, so things like that I’ve always looked towards and been inspired by.
Faze: Where in your process do you come up with the overarching themes or names for your shows?
Anthony: The show in terms of title and theme comes as I’m working on the pieces for the show. Specifically, in the Yorkville show, we had a very wide range of pop culture abstract and small and large pieces and it was just more geared towards this type of space, this dreamy space. So all of the pieces, when we were thinking of the name, I looked at the six pieces when I was 50% done the question, and all of them had something to do with dreaming, dreaming larger, so I really liked the continuity of creating a dream factory, a dream space, so that’s how this came to be.
My last show was called “Less Isn’t More” and it was my first very large scale show that was extended more than one day, it was a full one year show, and ‘less isn’t more’ was sort of me talking back to my younger self, my business self, and when I was working, everyone would always tell me ‘hey, you know, why are you doing so much more on the side? You have a job, why are you doing that at night?’ and I was like ‘if I want more, I have to do more.’ So that was sort of me laughing back at the world saying less isn’t more. So, a lot of the different shows that I do have to do with something that I’ve either gone through personally or the pieces that are going into that show.
Faze: For those chasing their passions with maybe unusual circumstances or perceived setbacks, what is your advice to them?
Anthony: I think that doing it often. What I mean by that is, for five years while I worked in finance, I painted every single night and weekend, like every single night and weekend. During that time, it still was an incredibly far-fetched thing to do, leave your structured career that you went to school for, that you worked hard for, that you’re making money in, to do something that’s totally up in the air. So, I don’t think that there will ever be for those people who are looking to take that leap and follow their dreams, there’s never going to be that right time. But if you’re doing it often, we have so many hours in a day, if you have a job or school or whatever you have, if you’re doing it with every other waking moment and it’s totally taking over your outside being outside of your structured life, it eventually will take over that structured period.
I think that there’s no time limit on it, for some people it happens in two months, one year, there years, some five, some ten, but I think that if you’re doing it often and you truly love it, you ultimately will be able to take that leap and it will become a lot more secure once you do. But a lot of people ask me, oh ‘should I quit my job and become an artist too?’ – and I’m like, no, you should never quit your job, you should always, while you’re in your job or in school, do everything possible outside of your job to the point where you physically can’t go to work anymore because it’s taken over. Once you get to that point, I feel it’s an easier (not good or right specifically), but easier transition.
Here are a few examples of Anthony’s installments (featuring yours truly, Andreia Mclean!) Thank you Anthony Ricciardi for inspiring us to dream!
The Dream Space pop-up gallery is open from April until July and is great for taking fun photos for social media. There is a $15 fee for the full immersive gallery experience, kids under 5 are free.