Ricardo Roig’s knife-edge art at Gallery L
Through Feb. 3
543 Bloomfield Ave.
By GRACE WILLIAMS
For Montclair Local
The Van Goghs and Renoirs of this world may not have used techniques that involved cutting and pasting and considered it art, but Ricardo Roig has taken those fundamentals and elevated them to a distinct art form. Earlier this month, Gallery L on Bloomfield Avenue opened an exhibit featuring the art and stylings of the up-and-coming 35-year-old Hoboken artist and Westfield native. Roig, who uses a stencils and razor knives, said that he found his medium by accident as a college student.
He initially studied painting. But he had several starts and stops on the way to an art degree, including a three-day stint in Florence that was supposed to be a full semester, but got cut short due to funding. One semester, he found himself learning the art of screen printing as part of a college class. In the first class, the teacher explained the process and had the class cut shapes out of paper, and eventually create three layers to provide depth and distance. Roig fell immediately in love with what he saw. The entire process of tracing, cutting and layering is therapeutic in nature, he said, and it gave him a deeper purpose and connection to the art Roig ultimately ended up making.
“I thought I would be a painter, but with painting, everything was a derivative of another painter, so whatever impressionist I was into, the paintings would look like that,” Roig continued. “This was my own style, this was my own thing.”
He always knew art was for him, he said.
“Since the second grade when an art teacher presented an artist, and I was like ‘what is that,’” Roig said. “I was told ‘an artist creates art for a living,’ and I said that’s what I want to do.”
To put this into daily practice, Roig made it a point to figure out where artists fit into every subject he learned in school. “In history, I would look for where the artists were. In geography, I would find out where the artists lived,” he said.
Before leaping full-time into creating and selling his art, Roig worked as an art teacher for the public schools of Westfield. As he saw more success with his technique, Roig was able to quit his teaching job. He then deepened his involvement with his art on a more intense and professional level. “Once [I told the] universe [I was] ready to go full time, things came together, and all this stuff hit me,” he said.
Since that “aha” moment, Roig’s art has taken him to a variety of places. He has his own studio in Hoboken. and his work is part of an installation at the Hoboken W Hotel, where he will continue to exhibit through 2019 after a successful 2018. He has also been commissioned to work with New York University and Shake Shack, and was part of last year’s New York Art Expo. In addition, Roig also has mural commissions in neighboring New Jersey towns and upcoming work with major brands like Amazon.
A LOCAL GALLERY
Gallery L is the brainchild of husband and wife team Lauren and Luke Waldrum, both of whom have artist and creator backgrounds and have lived in Montclair but currently reside in West Orange. The pair acquired the space in early 2018 and opened it to the public last summer. The Waldrums chose the name Gallery L after the first letter of their first names, noting that the decision was “a very diplomatic” one “between a creative husband and wife.” Several exhibitions have gone through the gallery since then, including an installment by Montclair artist Jennifer Levine.
After his show ends on Feb. 3, Roig will continue to be part of the collection at Gallery L, where he will serve as an artist-in-residence.
Despite never living in town, Roig worked as a waiter on Church Street for a time, and continues to feel a connection. It was there that he drew inspiration for his town-specific piece at Gallery L, a piece that features Raymond’s. In fact, Raymond’s was so popular, that the place where Roig waited didn’t do so well. “So, I decided to do it. I went in, grabbed a coffee and was inspired by the colorful bottles there.”
The show at Gallery L has gone well for Roig. “They have been so generous and to offer space for a show for a month where they have to pay rent is a lot,” he said. “I look forward to growing the Montclair series with [the Waldrums], visiting more and getting more inspiration.”
To that end, Roig will continue to feature Montclair landmarks in his works, and anticipates an upcoming series where people can vote on a place for him to cover.
“Art brings people together. Something I’ve always loved about it is that it serves as a vehicle where we can share humanity,” he said. “If you like looking at something, it doesn't matter where you come from, your income or your age. Art brings a learning experience for what your life is.”