Our next SWA Artist Spotlight focuses on a very talented figurative artist, Richard Ferguson.
Richard has had a long career in creative fields. After he graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi's BFA program in 1984, he went on to work in illustration and graphic design for many years. However, throughout his career, he remained loyal to painting in his spare time—now, he's been retired for five years and dedicates his full-time attention to painting and drawing.
He works in oil paint, pencil, and charcoal, and sometimes branches out to pastel, watercolor, and sculpture. As a figurative painter, he most often depicts the human body but occasionally makes still life and landscape works. Richard has exhibited his work in several local shows as well as with national organizations and has been awarded numerous awards in juried shows.
While he always strives to create high-quality figurative works, he also asks the viewer to consider the person behind the figure. He views art as successful if it provokes inner dialogues in viewers; he hopes to always ask people to stop to consider what a work is about far beyond the paint on the surface.
His work very much echoes this philosophy. While they are undeniably beautiful and realistic portraits, the subjects’ positions and expressions form a more complex image that lend themselves to interpretation. Ambiguous backgrounds, dynamic compositions, symbolism, and abstract shapes all contribute to the many atmospheres surrounding the figures.
Interesting and subtle references to art history are also scattered throughout his work. As you explore his portfolio, you'll find compositions that harken back to the Renaissance, yet others that mimic our modern world through the inclusion of streetlamps and high rises. Tying these many qualities together are the timeless, universal gazes of the subjects.
Lastly, while his work is obviously realist, he often imbues a lovely sense of surrealism or fantasy to them. Take Leti Cia, for example—in this charcoal on paperwork, and he draws a woman's face both emerging and fading away in an ambiguous space, while her eyes all the while look back at you. Similarly, in Keshmakesh, Richard paints a woman seemingly in motion—it’s a portrait, but not a traditional one. Her face is painted at two different angles as if he is merging two photos in succession. You can see the woman moving backward and wonder what exactly is going through her mind.
It’s fascinating to see the many ways Richard creates his figure paintings, and we look forward to seeing more.
We'll leave you on a quote by Leonardo da Vinci that resonates with him:
"Art is never finished, only abandoned.”