The Kingdom of Bahrain’s is known across the region for being a hub for creatives of all forms. This month, Simran Tiwari met with the supremely talented, renowned visual artist Carlo L. Rico who has been teaching and creating spectacular art for over 30 years.
Art has a way of alleviating stress, whether you’re creating it yourself or admiring the work of others. Colours, textures and brushstrokes when intertwined with a love for art, eye for detail and dedicated time can achieve phenomenal results.
The Filipino Creatives Bahrain Art Group recently held an art exhibition, ‘Transition – Journey to Embracing the New Normal’ under the auspices of the Philippines Embassy at the Oasis Mall in Juffair. The exhibition showcased the artists’ interpretations of adjusting to a post-pandemic world.
It was there that we were captivated by an ethereal painting depicting a woman with a pristine, yet emotionless mask. The man behind the painting was none other than Carlo L. Rico, a passionate visual artist who has spent the last three decades, not only creating exquisite paintings, but imparting his knowledge of art to upcoming artists through workshops and more.
“This painting is a philosophical interpretation of wearing a mask during the pandemic. By the time the woman decided to take off the mask, her true form is revealed – that of an angel. It is reflective of us finding and discovering ourselves throughout the pandemic,” explains Mr. Rico.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Mr. Rico always had a keen interest in art for which he would receive countless awards. “I decided to pursue architecture in university, but soon realised it really wasn’t my passion, so I shifted to fine art,” he says. “Following my graduation, I moved to the United States where I worked as a visual artist and graphic designer.”
He stated that he had also lived in Qatar and Saudi Arabia before moving to the Kingdom of Bahrain. “Working in these countries with culturally diverse teams, including some people from parts of Asia, has given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of art,” he says.
His art merges classic and contemporary styles, but primarily includes portraits, which he believes is the highest form of art, and figures. “I’ve always wanted to be unique, so I accomplished this by adding modern elements to classic pieces and am constantly learning. Some of the mediums I work with are charcoal and oil paint as it takes a lot of time and patience. I also work with soft pastels and do a lot of sketching,” he says.
“I draw inspiration for my art from my reflections on life, how I deal with everyday situations, and my interactions with people I meet,” he adds.
Reflecting on Bahrain’s art scene, Carlo says he believes that most artists here tend to stick to modern and abstract art. “Classic art is more intense and intricate, so I prefer focusing on the details as abstract art isn’t that difficult. I’d rather strengthen the techniques and basics as abstract forms don’t showcase as much skill,” he elaborates.
“My advice to new and upcoming artists is that they should never stop equipping themselves with knowledge and information. They must challenge themselves, discover more and even work on more typical subjects,” he stresses.
After taking on art professionally, he soon realised the extent to which it sparked joy in him. “There was a time that I tried taking myself out of this field, but I’ve always had a deep connection with art – it’s been a part of my heart and soul,” he concludes.