Extract taken from Ricky's profile on Passion for Freedom
As a young person growing up in the 1950’s/60’s Ricky Romain lost his way educationally, and consequently had no formal training as an artist, and although he rejects such labelling, he could be considered an ‘outsider artist’.
After a troubled adolescence he eventually brought order to his life with the discipline of classical Indian musical training and, after an enlightening visit to New York, began to access his imagination by painting. That was forty years ago, when there was a lack of digital media, and it was harder to sustain a career in the arts with little external validation, but it was just possible to forge one’s own way, which is what he has done.
Ricky’s early work was very much sensually and imaginatively inspired by Indian music and politically informed by his Jewish identity, but during the late 1990’s he became more and more concerned with the stereotypical and prejudicial judgements that were being encouraged by certain parts of the tabloid press. The complexity of issues like immigration and migrant labour, the granting of Refugee, and Leave to Remain status for asylum seekers, began to concern him more and more. At the same time he became interested in male sensitivity and the tendency (again in parts of the media) to relate words like compassion and empathy to the ‘female side’ of men’s’ emotions. This seemed just as absurd to him as regarding labels such as courage, strength, etc. as being connected to the ‘male side’ of women’s’ emotions.
Speaking out against injustice is an act that exposes the experience of oppressed, brutalised – or just downtrodden and exploited peoples and makes connections with human beings across vast swathes of space and time. It links individuals so that they can become groups. It validates groups, so that they can become movements. It empowers movements so that they can bring about change.
As an artist Ricky Romain does not speak out with words, alternatively he chooses most definitely to listen to those that do by working with imagery that is inspired by well informed and insightful political journalism, and humanitarian activism.
In this way his work could be seen as a means of bringing together the speaker and the listener.
The extemporary and poetical process of creating a painting enables him to expose images that fuse ideas informed by past memories and new revelations, occasionally allowing a balance to be achieved between proclaiming and considering.
The act of saying nothing does not necessarily have negative implications, if there is space within the resulting silence to hear the voices of others. It is the combination of saying nothing, and hearing nothing also that is difficult to defend.
Within RR’s work a collection of marks form themselves into proclaimers, screamers, whisperers, mutterers, orators, declaimers and silent thinkers. They all speak for the artist and to the artist. Sometimes he claims he does not know what they are saying, until someone, who speaks their language, is able to interpret the words for him.