Interview with Michael Victor · MVR Ruggiero

Michael Victor · MVR Ruggiero | United States

Behind ‘PiXel World Beach’
▪ ‘Playa Mundial de PiXeles’ Exhibit

The design layout of the artwork here is first a statement of the times.

It is also a personal reaction to my experience as an artist on Social Media; specifically how too often as a landscape artist I must crop works for display on Social Media – to get anything sizable -- because aspect ratios favor portrait orientation. That’s a hard line rule on Instagram where images do not rotate with rotation of cell phones, nor does zoom magnification stay with release of one’s hand.

In this exhibit with set portrait-orientation, I recognized textbook opportunity in the large-format dimensions allotted, so I didn’t mind cropping this beach scene, again. I did however take full advantage of the long 54” vertical dimension.

Smartphone Surrounds
An appropriate frame for works ‘By-Hand and Pixel-Paint Media’, as mine is right, is a Smartphone or any mobile device. Beyond that, all artists and curators now have to adjust works past and present to these devices to publicize them to mass audiences.

Design helps reduce what naiveté remains about any of this on the part of anyone.

PastelsXL Works' #pxImpressions
At height 44”, maximum enlargement (magnification) of this work, even in part, drives home the visual impact and quality of pxImpressions, refined microscopically through pixel-painting, and magnified for all to enjoy.

A wonder of this process is that the tiniest pigment grains become apparent to simulate sand and salt of ocean waters, giving beach scenes new textural authenticity.

PiXel World Beach_53.5" x 34"

PiXel World Beach_53.5" x 34"

Contemporary Art Station: Clear now is that by digital pixel-painting you develop minute hand-impressions to make your work unique. ‘MicroImpressionism’ is a sensible name for this way to paint. Why the name ‘pxImpressionism’ also?
Microimpression is a word already in use with different meanings. In the entertainment world for example, comedians do ‘microimpressions’ of other famous celebrities. Then, some painters create ‘microImpresssions’ directly on canvas to create highly-crafted, delicate effects, but which are still visible by the naked eye.
To differentiate, I coined the term ‘pxImpression’ to convey size ‘on the order of pixels’ and that to work with them, pixel-painting was required. Magnification is the only way to see these hand impressions. Digital processes thus become in service of the human hand to empower it, expanding its capability, growth and new potential.

CAS: Tell us about how you got started doing pxImpressionism?
Strong digital skills are from 20-years as Licensed Landscape Architect working in A/E design offices where all production was done digitally- CADD, color renderings, etc. The exception to that and invaluable were countless fast sketches I did with dense, hi-contrast strong color. These “vignettes” enlarged exceptionally for client presentations. This facility strengthened my capability in creating fine art with pastel media. Skill with hard and oil pastels began in mid-1990’s.
I started exhibiting my Landscape Pastels in 2017, but I first sensed pxImpressions in many of Life Pastels works when cataloguing them in 2015. An example is LiveOn Flash-Hand Cowboy, shown here. (See website Bio for more.)

CAS: How does the 19C Impressionism / Post-Impressionism compare with your contemporary brand of Impressionism?
I believe Impressionists would have LOVED working with pixels. I felt that after seeing basic similarities between Impressionists’ works – mostly Seurat’s - and those I advanced in 2017 by pixel painting.
Grasping the similarity between Seurat’s Pointillist dots of colored light and our pixels of today is no stretch for anyone. The patterns of dots in Seurat’s works are consistently straightforward and uniform. In contrast, the configurations and textures of pxImpressions I work with are different every time out.
Other differences with 19C Impressionism include:
- Most Impressionists painted their works with a brush, whereas I create mine By-Hand. When laying-in hard pastels to create compositions, and rendering features within them, the amount of pressure applied varies significantly, which accounts for why they vary within works themselves.
- Impressionists deliberately placed individual spot colors to define impressions; I investigate, discover, interpret, and compose pxImpressions that result naturally and that I “find”.
Impressionist artists that influence me most (still) are Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. Of Post-Impressionists - Seurat, Van Gogh, and Cezanne.

LiveOn Flash-Hand Cowboy

LiveOn Flash-Hand Cowboy

CAS: What is your process like, from initial idea to the creation of the final piece?
For landscape works, I start originals, and take them far towards a state of completion, on site with the physical subject landscape environment as a reference and inspiration. Color palette, paper media are determined by conditions of the moment – season, weather, light, etc. After that, development by pixel-painting has been different every time.
Works are not formulaic. In some works pxImpressions are the main feature. Other times they are building blocks in complex ‘Composite’ works, or altered somewhat to interface with collaged elements. Select passages could be abstract paintings themselves - a route rife for others, but one I haven’t yet taken.

CAS: What role do artists play in broader social and environmental conversations today?
Artists are vital in creating awareness of issues. When attuned to specific issue(s), works that raise awareness are rewarding emotionally or spiritually. This happened emphatically with The Landscape of 21C Lady Liberty via the 3rd Lady, who stands up for 21C ‘Spectrum of Blues’. When I investigated the breadth of depressing social issues to support the work, I saw the magnitude and the non-discriminatory nature of them instantly by 30 hashtags on Instagram. Although I felt hit by a lightning bolt, the revelation validated the purpose of the work, giving modern-day relevance to an emblem as old as Ms. Liberty. I have to point out issues are not limited to the U.S., but are global in scope.

I realized though that people don’t want to see depressing realities in art, because let’s face it - they are not fit for home or office. Doomsday scenarios alone don’t work; to accompany serious social issues in artworks, some measure of Hope has to be built in as well.

Being a Registered Landscape Architect, I have to stay abreast of environmental issues. Underlying Castle Central_Central Park are global warming and its ramifications for future generations. In NativeLscp works, I include wildlife to convey ‘habitats’ (of creatures besides us) and how important it is to respect and protect native landscape settings.

CAS: What do you love, or excites you the most, about your creative process?
In short, having just scratched the surface on what is possible with the XL process, I see a vast opportunities or roads to take with it, not just for me but for other artists too.
In an Artist Statement from late 2017 for the first exhibition of XL Works, I wrote, “with materials alone I see vast possibilities to mine…” The will to forge ahead fully in that direction hasn’t diminished; together with it now is the desire to create new works from inception with greater understanding of pxImpressions and the XL process.
Last, there are significant advantages to the XL process, which I identify on my CAS Exhibitor Profile Page. These are advantages for artists working individually or collaboratively. One HAS to love such opportunity and flexibility, right? J
Along that last line of thought, big thanks to CAS for opportunity to express myself and explain all in answer to the questions posed above for this interview.

NYS Riverine Thruway @ Tappan Zee Crossing 1664 with Castle Central_Central Park

NYS Riverine Thruway @ Tappan Zee Crossing 1664 with Castle Central_Central Park