"Images suggested of the divided self persisted in Ciccimarra's work until his death. Many pieces contain two figures: one consistently appears to be himself, the other his shadow or mirror image, or possibly, another closely related individual - his father, one of his wives, or a personification of death".
Born to a Viennese family, artist Richard Ciccimarra, travelled throughout Europe and the West Indies before arriving in Victoria, B.C., in 1955. Largely influenced by his time spent in the West Indies, Ciccimarra's early works reflected the colourful and vibrant life he witnessed. Influenced by expressionism, and especially the Viennese expressionist painters of his early years, Ciccimmara went on to explore the haunting condition of "ennui", an existential listlessness or despair, of which he knew well through bouts of depression and deteriorating physical and mental health.
Ciccimarra was a Founding member of Limners, alongside artists such as Maxwell Bates, Herbert Siebner, Robin Skelton and Myfanwy Pavelic. Though Limners had no specific doctrine, their members found common interest in figurative work. Being in Victoria proved fruitful for Ciccimarra as the artist produced many powerful and energetic works.
Like the Austrian Egon Schiele, Ciccimarra was fascinated with the idea of the double. With the double permitting unacceptable behaviour, it served to explain the contradictions of life and allows a sense of escape. It also afforded an extension of self and with that an endless fascination between light and dark and that ways in which we inhabit full humanity. In much of Ciccimarra's work there is a palpable solemnity and silence, found in the faceless figures and contracted scenes embodying both playful joy and melancholic sorrow in unison, which can create an awkward voyeuristic experience for viewers.
Richard Ciccimarra died by suicide in 1973 at age 48.