Riccardo Ten Colombo 

17 Feb – 11 Mar 2023

Curatorial text by: Vera Canevazzi

Novalis Art Design, G/F 197 Hollywood Road, Hong Kong

Riccardo Ten Colombo


In recent years, particularly since 2020, we have witnessed a significant artistic expansion and the emergence of unpredictable cross-pollinations between what was considered art and what never was. A new world has emerged, where reality and virtuality meet, where artificial intelligence can create original images and texts in seconds. There are no longer limits, only opportunities. In this context, art has definitively stopped being considered as a “serious thing” reserved only for contemplators who stand aside and try to decipher its meaning. It has become a participatory experience, a fusion of different trends and research, a game, or rather, an “invitation to play,” as the artist Grazia Varisco defined it when describing her “Tavole Magnetiche (Magnetic Boards)” of the early sixties.


Playing allows us to create a spontaneous relationship with objects, to transform their use, meaning and form, to unite the real with the imaginary, to create a connection with the world of childhood and to prefigure our future. This is how Riccardo “TEN” Colombo combines craftsmanship with industrial production, collective art with individual art through play within the works of the “Cromoblock” series. TEN chooses an aesthetic that “creates a bridge” between the avant-gardes of the twentieth century and the metaverse. In fact, on the one hand these works involuntarily take us back to those moments of childhood when we lay on a carpet composing shapes and imagining fantastic worlds (as written by critic Ilaria Bignotti). On the other hand, they connect to a visual tradition that starts from constructivism and cubism, passes through the optical-kinetic art of the sixties and reaches contemporary graffiti and the most recent crypto art.


In these works, Riccardo TEN Colombo, a Turin-based artist who trained in the field of street art and the hip hop and punk culture of the 1990s, stages the game. He arranges it in the limited area of a board, and offers it to the spectator, giving them the opportunity to scatter it and put it back together. TEN creates an engaging artistic experience, as suggested by the title of his exhibition “DIS-PLAY” organized at the Novalis gallery in Hong Kong.


This playful-participatory dimension connects to the experiences of artists of the kinetic-programmatic movement of the 1960s, including the Italians Grazia Varisco, Gianni Colombo, Bruno Munari and Enzo Mari. It originated with the historical exhibition “Le Mouvement” in 1955 at the Galerie Denise René in Paris, of which we remember the iconic photograph where the gallerist modifies the work “Dibouk” of the Israeli artist Yaacov Agam. The intention is to open the doors to the public so that the public becomes a co-creator of the work, making art a collective and shared matter. This concept was emphasized by the French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud in his book “Relational Aesthetics” of 1998: “each work of art would be the proposal to inhabit a common world, and the work of each artist a pattern of relationships with the world that would generate other relationships, and so on, ad infinitum.”


We are witnessing a democratization of art, and its transformation into a social experience, according to research that characterizes not only “Cromoblock”, but also all of TEN Colombo’s production, including his graphic and street art works. As the artist writes: “The pieces of Cromoblock, which can be moved and modified on the board, represent my vision of urban art that is constantly evolving. The walls of the cities are boards available to the community where nothing is permanent and the real work is constantly changing, composed of layers of paint and interventions of different people who participate in the creative process. For this reason, it is impossible to capture street art, but it becomes essential to grasp its transient and changeable essence.”


Riccardo TEN Colombo views the idea of a collective work not only as a stylistic feature but also as a particular vision of art and work. Inspired by ethical and political motives, the artist is socially engaged through projects such as “Mission To Art,” an artist residency that supports artists in printing limited edition works of art. He was also artistic director of the “Street Alps Graffiti Festival,” which involved over 60 artists from around the world to create urban art in mountainous and hilly environments. Furthermore, Colombo is attentive to current environmental issues surrounding climate change and many of his works depict endangered animals and natural landscapes. Therefore, in addition to “Cromoblock,” the exhibition also includes the 2022 paintings “MOUNTAINS 7” and “MOUNTAINS 8,” which highlight the environmental focus that characterizes his artistic production.


“Cromoblock” is composed of metallic triangles on magnetic boards, whose position can be changed by both the author and the collector, in a continuous evolution of compositional possibilities. Influenced by the visual research of some optical artists, including Vasarely and members of the GRAV group. TEN Colombo refers to the gestalt theories of form psychology, exploring how what we perceive is not just the result of individual images, but of an overall structure that allows us to understand form as a whole, just like when we listen to a melody and can’t easily distinguish individual notes that make it up. TEN Colombo’s Cromoblock works in the same way: at first glance we see images, solid and colorful geometric shapes that emerge from a black background, three-dimensional bodies that float in space, coming towards us. Only after a deeper analysis do we discover that the works are not unique blocks, but compositions of multiple triangular shapes combined.


The Turin-based artist challenges the viewer’s visual capacity by creating optical illusions that seem to set the elements that make up the work in motion. Through shades, contrasts of colors, and the combination of geometric shapes, he forces us to visually travel through the evolutions and involutions of the shapes that seem to come to life autonomously. An example is the triptych “TRIPTYCH” (2022) in which the blue and brown geometries intertwine with each other and extend from one magnetic board to the other, in an aesthetic continuity that becomes one with the surrounding space. Or even when there is only one color, as in the works “BOOM BLUE”, “CLOSE TO ME”, “MEDITATION” – all made in 2022 – the expressive power of the chromatic tone is totalizing, it is pure blue. The same process also occurs for the shape, in the work “CUBE” (2022), the cube itself is meaning and signifier, subject and object at the same time indistinctly.


That is why also the titles of the works are born spontaneously, as the artist himself explains: “The titles arrive at the finished work. During the creative process, the blocks constantly move on the canvas and the shapes change continuously. When I reach the figure that satisfies me, I look at the shape as if it were a newborn. The impression I have is as if the shape had existed for a long time and already had its own name. At that moment, without too many thoughts and letting the thoughts flow, I choose the title based on the emotions that the work generates for me.”


This achieved perfection of form takes us back to a feeling of reverential respect where the works cannot be touched but only admired from afar. On the other hand, the artist prompts us to question our patterns, to rethink our perceptions, to feel like an active part of that whole that is our contemporary era.




近年來,尤其自2020以來,我們看到藝術領域的大幅度拓展,以及傳統藝 術範疇與非藝術元素出現令人意外的交叉融合。一個新的世界正在誕生, 現實和虛擬在此相遇,僅僅幾秒鐘,人工智慧便可製作出原創的圖像和文 字。從前的限制經已消失,同時剩下了無數的新可能。在這情況下,藝術 明顯不再只是一種「嚴肅的東西」,只供沉思者站在一旁試圖解讀作品的 意義。藝術已成為讓人參與的體驗、各種不同潮流和研究成果的結合,一 場遊戲,又或者可說是,一次「嬉戲的邀請」——正如藝術家格拉齊亞. 瓦里斯科(Grazia Varisco)在描述她 60 年代初的作品〈磁板〉(Tavole Magnetiche)時所定義。

遊戲使我們與物件建立一種即興的關係,它改變物件的用途、意義和形 式,結合現實與想像,並與童年的世界建立聯繫,再而預視我們的未來。 這正反映在列卡度「十」哥倫布(Riccardo “TEN” Colombo)的〈色 塊〉(Cromoblock)作品系列,他通過遊戲,將工藝與工業製品、集體 藝術與個人創作結合起來。「十」所選擇的美學,於二十世紀的前衛藝術 與元宇宙之間「建立一座橋樑」。事實上,一方面,這些作品把我們拉回 童年的某些時刻——當我們躺在一塊幾何圖案的地毯上,幻想著奇異的 世界(正如藝評家伊拉莉亞.比格諾蒂(Ilaria Bignott)所寫)。另一方 面,它們聯繫到一個視覺藝術傳統,從建構主義和立體主義開始,去到 60年代的視幻動感藝術(optical-kinetic art),到當代的塗鴉藝術和最 近年的加密藝術(crypto art)。

透過這些作品,列卡度「十」哥倫布——這位街頭藝術出身,熟悉 90 年 代嘻哈和朋克文化的都靈藝術家,策劃了這場遊戲。遊戲被安排在一塊板 之內的空間,觀眾可以把作品自由拆解並重新組合。「十」創造了一場 引人入勝的藝術體驗,正如他在香港 Novalis 畫廊的展覽標題〈賞-玩〉 (DIS-PLAY)所暗示的那樣。

這種嬉戲與參與的特性,可以追溯到 60 年代動感編程( k i n e t i c – programmatic)藝術運動,當中一眾藝術家的經驗,他們包括義 大利的格拉齊亞.瓦里斯科(Grazia Varisco)、吉安尼.哥倫布 (Gianni Colombo)、布魯諾.穆納里(Bruno Munari)和恩 佐.馬里(Enzo Mari)。它起源於1955年在巴黎丹妮絲.勒 內畫廊(Galerie Denise René)舉辦的歷史性展覽〈移動〉 ( L e M o u v e m e n t ) , 我 們 都 認 得 這 場 展 覽 的 標 誌 性 照 片 — —丹妮絲.勒內挪動著以色列藝術家雅各夫.阿罕 (Yaacov Agam)的作品〈附鬼〉(Dibouk)。這場展覽的理念, 是向公眾敞開大門,令大家成為作品的共同創作者,使藝術 成為集體和共享的事。法國藝術評論家尼古拉斯.布里奧 (Nicolas Bourriaud)在他1998年的《關係美學》(Relational Aesthetics)一書中,強調了這一概念:「每件藝術品都將成 為生活在同一個世界的提案,每位藝術家的作品都是一個與世界產 生 關 係 的模式,而它們又將產生其他的關係,如此類推,無窮無盡。」

我們見證著一次藝術的民主化,以及它如何轉化成一場社會經驗,這是建 基於作者的研究,而它不止顯見於〈色塊〉,也包含在「十」哥倫布的所 有作品,包括他的平面和街頭藝術創作。正如他本人寫道:「〈色塊〉裡 可以在板上移動和轉換的色塊,代表我對不斷變化的城市藝術的看法: 城市的牆就是可供社區使用的板子,在此沒有什麼是永久的,真正的作品 正在不斷變化,由一層層油漆,以及參與創作過程的各色人等的干預所組 成。基於這個原因,我們不可能捕捉到街頭藝術的全貌,而重要的是把握 它瞬息萬變的本質」。

列卡度「十」哥倫布認為集體創作的理念不僅是一種風格特徵,而更是對 藝術和作品的一種觀點。基於道德和政治原因,他通過諸如「藝術使命」 (Mission To Art)的計劃參與社會活動—— 它是一個支援藝術家製作限量 版數作品的藝術家駐場計劃。他也是「阿爾卑斯山街頭塗鴉節」(Street Alps Graffiti Festival)的藝術總監,邀請來自世界各地的60多位藝術家, 於山區和丘陵環境中創作城市藝術。此外,哥倫布亦關注當前與氣候變化 有關的環境問題,他很多作品都以瀕危動物和自然景觀為題材。因此,除 了〈色塊〉外,是次展覽還包括他2022年的畫作〈山七〉(MOUNTAINS 7)和〈山八〉(MOUNTAINS 8),這些作品突顯他在創作裡對環境的關 注。

這位來自都靈的藝術家通過創造光學幻覺來挑戰觀眾的視覺能力,這些 幻覺似乎令整個作品裡的元素都在擺動。透過色調、顏色對比,以及幾 何形狀的組合,迫使我們以視覺穿越這些圖形的演變和內卷,它們活像 有著自己的生命。三聯畫〈三聯畫〉(TRIPTYCH,2022)正是其中一 例,當中藍色和棕色的幾何圖形相互交織,從一塊磁板延伸到另一塊, 美學上的連續性令它們與周圍的空間融為一體。而即使在單色作品,如 〈轟藍〉(BOOM BLUE)、〈靠近我〉(CLOSE TO ME)和〈沉思〉 (MEDITATION)等於2022年完成的創作,它們顏色的表現力也是整 體性的,是純粹的藍色。同樣的過程也發生在圖形上,在〈立方〉 (C U B E ,2022)中,立方體本身既是意義也是意符,主體和客體難以分 辨地同時存在。

也因為這個原因,這些作品的名字也是即興式地產生,他解釋道:「名稱 是在作品完成後才出現。在創作過程中,這些板塊在畫布上不斷移動,形 狀不斷變化。當出現令我滿意的圖形時,我看著它,彷彿看到一個嬰兒出 生。對我來說,這個圖形恍如已經一早存在,本身已有自己的名字。在那 一刻,我沒有太多的想法,就讓思想自行流動,根據作品為我產生的情感 來命名。」

這種趨近完美的形式,將我們帶回到一種崇敬的感覺,在此作品不能被接 觸,而只能遠觀。另一方面,藝術家令我們質疑自身固有的模式,反思我 們的知覺,把自己感受成我們當代這個整體的一個積極組成部分。