Ryan Heshka – “Instinction”

by Nathan SpoorPosted on

Deep within the halls of his Vancouver based studio, artist Ryan Heshka (last seen here) brings forth an array of wonders by tickling viewer’s eye-brains with a dazzling display of colorful new works. Even while busily working on his upcoming new children’s book, Heshka has been concentrating heavily on a fresh body of paintings for eager fans titled ‘Instinction’. This latest collection of work is based a concept centering on humanity’s attempts at evolving toward advances in technology and comfort rather than our inherent impulses. Along the way, Ryan invested in himself by studying oil painting and finding a new inspiration for his technique and personal evolutions, usually a combination of acrylic and gouache applications.

Hi Fructose gets a peek into this new set of paintings (and a few sketches) and a look into the artist’s engaging approach to his most intuitive world-building paintings thus far. “Instinction” debuts at Seattle’s foremost purveyor of visual finery, Roq la Rue, for viewing November 11th through December 3rd, 2011. – Nathan Spoor

To begin with, your work has a particular visual flavor, a distinct style if you will. It seems as though you are telling a story or portraying a specific thought to viewers – could you share with us what this body of work is about?

Loosely, I began visualizing the theme of this show as an exploration into the demise of instinct.  The idea that people get further away from using that instinct we have, maybe even more so now with the advent of cars that park themselves, or GPS, or any dozen technological advances.  I’m not anti tech, just fascinated with the idea of we as people totally ignoring and fighting our animal instincts.  That’s where the name “Instinction” grew from… a play on extinction (of instinct).  I caricatured this idea in my paintings by the use of groupings and repetition, less individuality.

At the same time, I set out to be more intuitive in my creative process for this show … less planning, using little or no reference, letting ideas flow.  This was harder than I thought it would be … apparently I was further removed from my own instinct than I thought I was.  But it was a great exercise in altering my process.

So to create this new work with your instinctive approach, what inspired you along the way?

As always, beauty and oddness, often combined.  In addition, I felt that strongly choreographed paintings (like a large dance routine) would help to bring the idea of the lack of individuality across.  I also used an almost toy-like scale to the figures and settings… like you are peering into the windows of a tiny world… world-building is something I have enjoyed since childhood.  I think I’ve been chasing that sense of childhood wonder all my life.

Architectural shapes and abstractions, as well as intense detail and textures played a large role in these paintings.  “Accidental” color combos, saved from old projects and doodles and my sketchbook, were really convenient when it came to visualizing finished pieces.

Were there any new inspirations that assisted you in your new process or path to creating new works this time around?

I took an oil painting course this year that really helped push my painting skills forward (or at least shake things up a bit).  Up until now, I’ve always used acrylic or gouache, but I can see myself using oil more and more.  A rediscovery of the medium of stop motion (currently working on a short film project with a musician friend) has opened my mind up.  Music with an electronica bent to it (like Crystal Castles, the Knife, etc.) has becoming standard studio listening.

We know that you are not just a painter of works for galleries, are there any new releases coming up beyond this series?

The art for my new children’s book, “Welcome to Robot Town” is completed, and the book is due for release the winter of 2012/2013.  I’ll also be releasing a print of the piece I did for the Twin Peaks group show last year, which will be available at this year’s Twin Peaks show, celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Fire Walk With Me”.

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