Ricky Lee Gordon

South Africa 1984

Painting, Murals


Ricky Lee Gordon
Ricky Lee Gordon
South Africa
November 20, 2016
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

Best known for his amazing massive murals, Ricky Lee Gordon is a South African street artist who used to work under the pseudonym Freddy Sam for many years. The talented muralist seeks to highlight big social issues and explore the nature of man living in the 21st century, within the context of history and nature, with his works. The artist intention with his public pieces is to create artwork that has meaning to the community who will live with the mural and to represent a universal idea that everyone can identify with and be inspired by. “It is important to me that the community is happy with the work“.

international home of creative work
Ricky Lee Gordon – The Road of Solidarity, Walk and Talk Festival, Azores, Portugal, 2015


Ricky Lee Gordon was drawn into art with skateboarding and later graffiti in his early teens. During high school, his teacher told him it was not necessary to gain a university pass grade to get into the university art program and that he could get in with his portfolios alone, so instead of taking required subjects like math and history science, he did only four art subjects and two languages. Although Gordon completed high school with the highest grade, he was rejected by the University telling him his teacher was greatly misinformed. In the end, it was the best thing that could ever happen to him as he continued to push forward doing his own thing. Now, more than 13 years later, he has the desire to study and has recently received a scholarship for a three-year Atelier program in classical oil painting at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.

Ricky Lee Gordon became interested in art during his teens

home of international project
Ricky Lee Gordon – Every River Flows to the Sea, Art United Us in Kiev, Ukraine, 2016

From Graffiti to Large-Scale Murals

The artist did graffiti for many years, before he became interested in painting figurative murals with spray-cans that opened his eyes to new muralism techniques. Inspired by the work of artists like Franco Fasoli aka Jaz from Argentina and Waone and Aec of Interesni Kazki duo from Ukraine, he decided to stop working with spray paint and began to use brush only which had a great effect on his work. It also led him to be interested in classical oil painting which he picked up a few years later. In 2015, he had a residency at Everfresh studio in Melbourne, Australia, where he met Rone, one of the studio artists who shared a large-scale mural scaling technique with him that has since dramatically helped the artist to execute his mural work more effectively.

In 2013, he decided to stop working with spray paint

home of international projects
Ricky Lee Gordon – I Am Human Through the Reflection of Your Humanity Back at Me, Oakland, CA, 2016

Music, Art and Meditation

Over the years, the artist has developed a visual language that merges classical, modern, abstract, minimalist and collage painting. He is inspired by modern electronic music producers who take influence from classical and all kinds of world music to create new scores and remixes bringing together existing elements that then create a new composition of sound. The artist believes the same thing is possible with painting – using a visual language, new and old techniques, textures, poetry and storytelling, one can achieve a beautiful harmony within his or her work. In recent years, the artist has gotten quite into meditation and the teaching of Dharma – Buddhist meaning for cosmic law and order, also applied to the teachings of the Buddha. “It [Dharma] has had the greatest effect on my work as I think I am now more connected to what, how and why I want to make art”.

“The art benefits the practice of meditation and the meditation benefits the practice of art”

international street art in cape town
Ricky Lee Gordon – I Am You, You Are Me, for the city of Cape Town, Cape Town, 2016

Curatorial Work and Creative Activism

Amongst his art practice, Ricky Lee Gordon was a co-founder of Colour Ikamva, an art outreach program designed to re-imagine education through creativity and self-empowerment. The biggest project undertook the painting of an entire school, that was in very poor condition – they painted 15 classes, 5 new murals and repaired all the ceilings and plumbing where needed. Colour Ikamva also ran smaller projects in Rwanda and in Zambia. The artist was also the founder of A Word of Art residency, gallery and project space that hosted over 50 creatives from around the world. Gordon closed A Word of Art in 2013 and Colour Ikamva in 2015 to focus on his own art.

Gordon closed A Word of Art in 2013 and Colour Ikamva in 2015 to focus on his own art

home paintings
Ricky Lee Gordon – If You Fall, I Will Fall with You, 2016 (Left) / Untitled #1, 2016 (Right)

Interconnectedness of People and Nature

Today, Gordon’s murals can be found throughout the world, from Cape Town to Melbourne to New York. Some of the international street art festivals he took part include Memorie Urbane mural festival in Gaeta, Italy (2016), Pow Wow Hawaii mural festival, Honolulu, Hawaii (2016), Matharan Green art festival in Mumbai, India (2015) and many others. Usually when he paints a mural in a new city, on arrival he takes a few days to research, talk to people in the area and find an idea that will connect with the community surrounding the space. He then simplifies the idea to highlight its universal nature and bring a new light on social issues relevant to the communities in which he makes the mural. Having painted under the pseudonym Freddy Sam – a combination of his two grandfathers’ names – Gordon reverted to painting under his real name in 2016.

Ricky Lee Gordon is currently based in Los Angeles, CA.

Featured image: work in progress, photo via streetartnews.net
All other images courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleMuseum/GallerySolo/Group
2016Entry Point: Exploring The New Contemporary MovementFullerton Museum Center CaliforniaGroup
2016United Artists mural projectKiev, UkrainGroup
2016Memorie Urbane mural festivalGaeta, ItalyGroup
2016Notacrime Campaign mural projectNew York, USAGroup
2016WAC Big Walls: Columbia College mural projectChicago, USAGroup
2016DO ART Foundation mural commissionLos Angeles, USAGroup
2016Athen B gallery x RVCA mural projectOakland, USAGroup
2016Exploring The New Contemporary Movement Pow WowHonolulu Museum of Art, HawaiiGroup
2016Pow Wow Hawaii mural festivalHonolulu, HawaiiGroup
2015La Zona ResidencySanto Domingo, Dominican RepublicGroup
2015Artesano Mural festivalNagua, Dominican RepublicGroup
2015Amnesty international - Art4writes exhibition and muralNew Orleans, USAGroup
2015Walk & Talk public art festivalAzores, PortugalGroup
2015Matharan Green art festivalMumbai, IndiaGroup
2015The Abstract and the AbsoluteDangerfork Gallery, Melbourne, AustraliaSolo
2015Everfresh artist residencyMelbourne, Australia Group
2015The Nature of Our PresenceWorld Art Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaSolo
2014Festival d'Art Urbain AntananarivoAntananarivo, MadagascarGroup
2014Nelson Mandela tribute mural commissionJohannesburg, South AfricaGroup
2014Bronza AgeCape Town, South AfricaGroup
2014Peace Revolution artist meditation residencyBangkok, ThailandGroup
2013WWF Earth Hour, mural commissionJohannesburg and Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2013Global Power Shift conference, mural commissionIstanbul, TurkeyGroup
2013Muralist festival, public art festivalIstanbul, TurkeyGroup
2013Kolor Kathmandu public art festivalKathmandu, NepalGroup
2013Wall Therapy, public art festivalRochester NY, USAGroup
2013The Philadelphia Mural Art Program, mural commissionPhiladelphia, USAGroup
2013Living Walls, public art festivalAtlanta, USAGroup
2013Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga, mural projectKigali, Rwanda Group
2013Do Art Foundation - Urban ArtLA, USAGroup
2012Open Walls, public art festivalBaltimore, USAGroup
2012Maboneng Township Experience public art projectGugulethu Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2012Acrylic Walls, mural projectJohannesburg - Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2012Ways of seeing exhibitionA Word of Art gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2011Coachella Music Festival live paintingLA, USAGroup
2011I ART SAJohannesburg and Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2011Wall Therapy, public art festivalRochester NY, USAGroup
2011Ritual GalleryNY, USAGroup
2011Happy Studios, residencyPortland OregonGroup
2011Living Walls, public art festivalAtlanta, USAGroup
2011Urban Aesthetic, exhibition with Paul SenyolWorld Art Gallery, Cape Town, South AfricaGroup
2011Wide Open Walls, mural projectThe GambiaGroup