The complex patchwork of urban elements in my immediate surroundings holds tremendous fascination for me. I am particularly struck by the ironies and paradoxes found in both the micro and macro world that surrounds us. Moving to the Bay Area in 2007, after twenty-five plus years in the museum profession, rejuvenated my desire to re-draw my personal world. My panoramic drawings are a compilation of disparate images stitched together and interwoven much like reconstructing a memory or a recollected experience.
I have always been attracted to the black and white world due in part to my quirky memories of growing up in small industrial Pennsylvania town, constantly gazing out of my third floor bedroom window overlooking a colorless landscape of slate roof tops and coal-fired smoke punctuated by cathedral-like steel mills and bell towers. This disengagement fueled my imagination and made seeing come to life. To me, a drawing is a more suggestive or evocative form of color. Actual color tends to cloud my perception, seeming to be too decorative.
Unlike traditional panoramic views captured from a fixed point and distance, I try to construct my world around the viewer and beyond their periphery, beckoning them to simultaneously partake in the grand scope of its spatial depth and inhabited insignificance. My large-scale work is drawn from my journeys throughout the Bay Area, immersed in its exotic diversity of architecture, landscape, and the paradoxes of human interaction and disengagement. I am as compelled to it as I am to the urban memories of my youth.
The extended drawing format is derived in part from traditional Chinese landscape scrolls. It provides me the ideal vehicle for the depiction of a multitude of disparate elements within a rhythmic spatial context. The elongated format allows the viewer to experience the whole environment as well as its parts, moving through it visually as if he/she were actually travelling within its confines. The element of time is both actual and perceptual. This movement establishes a visual paradox -- while one might enjoy digesting the pictorial grandeur (macro) and opulent details (micro) in my work, there is an element of detachment, alienation or even entrapment.
Using the most basic tools - graphite and an eraser - allows me to recreate a colorless yet colorful world that suggests a timeless sense of my life experiences.
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All drawings copyrighted by Ric Ambrose