Ricco/Maresca’s booth (#412) at the Outsider Art Fair this year will feature several of the most celebrated Outsider masters, including Martín Ramírez, referred to as “one of the greatest artists of the 20th century” by Roberta Smith in her 2007 New York Times review. Ramírez’s mysterious and complex body of work poignantly illuminates his life as a Mexican-American artist suspended between the two very separate worlds of his native, beloved Jalisco, Mexico and the confines of California’s state institution system. His autobiographical imagery might be compared with the autobiographical art of Adolf Wölfli that Ricco/Maresca will also exhibit. Wölfli was the first artist acquired by Jean Dubuffet for his Collection de l’art brut, now housed in Lausanne, Switzerland. The booth will feature the abstract and strongly graphic drawings of the artist Günther Shützenhöfer, a resident of the Gugging House of Artists outside of Vienna, Austria.
Ricco/Maresca will bring to the OAF works by famed African-American self-taught artists Bill Traylor, Elijah Pierce, William Hawkins and Sam Doyle. All four of these artists were included in the seminal 1982 exhibition Black Folk Art in America 1930–1980 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1982. Using primarily found materials, these artists created work inspired by observed life coupled with imagination, and developed thoroughly signature styles. Bill Traylor —born into a slave family, a former factory worker and homeless welfare recipient – created approximately 1,500 drawings of graphite and poster paint on cardboard between the years of 1939-1942. William Hawkins’ selective eye seized images from newspapers, magazines, and advertisements from a suitcase archive he kept in his bedroom. Hawkins combined these images with his own recollections to create an expressive picture gallery of animals, American icons (such as the building of the Statue of Liberty), and historic events. Sam Doyle was born and spent his entire life on one of the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina. He created an “Out Door Art Gallery” populated by a diverse and colorful cast of local characters—some real, like his cousin, the island’s first black midwife, and some imagined, like the ghost “Whooping Boy.” Elijah Pierce turned his barbershop into a gallery for his painted wood reliefs of religious and popular imagery. “Every piece of wood I carve is a message, a sermon,” he once remarked.
Contemporary artists George Widener, Ken Grimes and newly introduced Marcos Bontempo will share space in the booth. Self-taught artist and calendar savant George Widener creates mixed-media works on paper that give aesthetic, visible form to complex calculations based on dates and historical events – the sinking of the Titanic is one of his favorite. Widener currently has a major exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof museum in Berlin titled “Secret Universe IV: George Widener” through June 16, 2013. Based in Connecticut, Ken Grimes paints text-and-symbol images in acrylic on Masonite and paper that refer to extraterrestrial encounters and the influence of aliens in our world. He is fascinated with facts and errors that appear to be mere coincidences to most people. Marcos Bontempo was born in Argentina, but now lives and works in the romantic seaside town of Ronda, in Andalusian Spain; a home to poet Rainer Maria Rilke, Earnest Hemmingway, Orson Welles and renown bullfighter Antonio Ordonez. Painting with ink and salt on paper, Bontempo’s expressive, often haunting polymorphous figures are certainly some of the most original art being produced today.
The gallery is hosting a Cocktail Party on Friday during the fair, February 1, 7-9PM, which will be held at Ricco/Maresca Gallery, 529 W 20 St, Fl. 3, where the exhibition Henry Darger: Landscapes is mounted. The party is in celebration of the launch of Ricco/Maresca’s new website and online magazine Fluence. The double-sided paintings of Henry Darger will be flipped periodically for viewing during this party.