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Andy Rementer e Fulvia Mendini. The Age of Innocence

1 Feb

di Ivan Quaroni

La perfezione si ottiene non quando non c’è più nulla da aggiungere,
ma quando non c’è più niente da togliere.”
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

La semplicità nell’arte è, in generale, una complessità risolta.
(Constantin Brâncuşi)

 

Siamo in un’epoca di conclamata sublimazione della tridimensionalità, effetto evidente di una fase ultra-mimetica delle tecnologie digitali. Il 3D ormai non imita più la realtà, ma la supera in nome di una super definizione dell’esperienza ottica che, però, finisce per appiattire il contributo immaginativo dello spettatore. Credo sia successo a ognuno di noi di sperimentare il fastidio generato dalla visione di un film (oppure di un videogioco) in 3D, in cui l’applicazione forzosa di tale tecnica ha provocato un impoverimento, anziché un arricchimento del godimento estetico o ludico. Quello che i geek degli effetti speciali e gli smanettoni dell’industria videoludica non riescono a capire è che la mente umana contribuisce attivamente alla visione, alterando e ristrutturando le percezioni visive in base ai concetti già immagazzinati. Fenomeni come lo scotoma, l’effetto priming, la misdirection passiva, la cecità selettiva e altri curiosi trucchi mentali sono, infatti, ben noti agli scienziati e agli illusionisti. René Magritte sosteneva che “la mente ama le immagini il cui significato è ignoto, poiché il significato della mente stessa è sconosciuto”. Guardare un’immagine, quindi, è come ingaggiare una sfida con il mistero che essa sottende. Quando, invece, l’immagine contiene troppe informazioni, quando è denotativa, eccessivamente didascalica rispetto al proprio contenuto, il mistero si dissolve.

I lavori pittorici di Andy Rementer e Fulvia Mendini non corrono questo rischio. Nonostante l’apparente semplicità dei loro dipinti, peraltro non privi di dettagli preziosi e riferimenti colti, Rementer e Mendini dimostrano di aver ben compreso il potenziale comunicativo, ma soprattutto seduttivo, del linguaggio bidimensionale, il quale sopperisce alla sottrazione degli elementi prospettici e chiaroscurali con l’aumentata capacità allusiva di linea e colore. Tipica di molte forme di arte antica, così come di quella bizantina e medievale fino al Trecento, la bidimensionalità è stata una caratteristica che ha attraversato molte correnti dell’arte del Novecento. Essa consiste in una rappresentazione concentrata nei soli parametri di altezza e larghezza, in cui la rinuncia a ogni effetto di profondità spaziale finisce per alterare anche la dimensione temporale e narrativa.

Un esempio di questo meccanismo è Guernica di Picasso, forse il più celebre capolavoro di arte bidimensionale di tutti i tempi, dove la sintesi pittorica e l’allineamento anti-prospettico di tutte le figure sullo stesso piano producono il più alto modello di narrazione simultanea, sulla scia di quanto già avveniva nella struttura paratattica dei rilievi paleocristiani e degli affreschi altomedievali, in cui si affastellavano i diversi episodi di una storia.

Belide

Fulvia Mendini, Belide, 2015, acrilico su tavola, 23×17 cm

Né l’artista americano, né quella italiana si servono, però, di questo espediente. Più che nell’impianto narrativo – stringatissimo nel caso di Andy Rementer e totalmente abolito nei dipinti di Fulvia Mendini – gli effetti dell’adozione di un linguaggio sintetico si avvertono soprattutto nell’impatto iconico delle figure, in parte ereditato dalla Pop Art e in parte dall’economia progettuale e comunicativa del design, cui entrambi devono la propria formazione.

Originario del New Jersey, Andy Rementer ha, infatti, studiato Graphic Design alla University of the Arts di Philadelphia ed ha poi lavorato come illustratore e fumettista per testate come il New York Times, il New Yorker, Apartamento Magazine e Creative Review e, come animatore, con l’emittente MTV e la casa di produzione cinematografica Warner Bros. Per due anni è stato a Treviso alla Fabrica, il centro di ricerca sulla comunicazione di Benetton Group, in compagnia di un manipolo di ricercatori internazionali specializzati in grafica, design, fotografia, video, musica e giornalismo. Durante la sua permanenza in Italia, l’artista ha sviluppato un linguaggio visivo ispirato oltre che al design, al fumetto e ai cartoni animati, anche all’arte europea e, in particolare a quella medievale, bizantina e rinascimentale conosciuta nelle sue frequenti incursioni a Venezia.

Nelle opere di Andy Rementer, la flatness si esprime attraverso una teoria di personaggi dalle sagome compatte e dai contorni definiti, spesso stagliati sullo sfondo di un paesaggio urbano. La metropoli è, infatti, protagonista di una serie di episodi fulminei, di storie semplicissime che, però, rivelano il carattere straordinario dell’esperienza quotidiana. L’artista annulla i dettagli di spazio e tempo e cala i suoi personaggi in una dimensione silente e sospesa di sapore quasi Novecentista. Non a caso, annovera Ferdinand Léger tra le sue principali influenze, anche se la propensione per la stringatezza e la sintesi gli deriva dalla lettura dei racconti di Raymond Carver, dove l’economia narrativa si combina con un linguaggio conciso e minimale.

DIVA

Andy Rementer, Divano Diva, 2015, oil on canvas, 76×122 cm

Se le forme piene delle sue figure ricordano a tratti quelle dipinte dagli europei nel clima di Ritorno all’ordine degli anni Venti e Trenta, gli oggetti e i complementi d’arredo che compaiono negli interni domestici denotano, invece, il suo duplice interesse per il design e per la Metafisica italiana. Da buon cosmopolita, e con la spavalderia di chi è abituato a trasgredire ogni confine disciplinare, Rementer condensa nel lessico pop una varietà d’interessi, che stanno all’incrocio tra passato e presente, ma anche tra arte, grafica e illustrazione. E, così, reinventa una mitologia urbana allegramente nevrotica, vivacemente malinconica, che ben si adatta alle contraddizioni della società moderna.

Dopo gli studi di grafica e illustrazione all’Istituto Europeo del Design di Milano, Fulvia Mendini ha lavorato all’Atelier Mendini e, parallelamente, ha sviluppato la propria ricerca pittorica e decorativa concentrandosi in particolare sul ritratto e sul mondo delle forme naturali. Artista versatile, Mendini ha collaborato con artigiani e aziende, realizzando ceramiche, sculture, tappeti, murales, gioielli e borse. La sua pittura, caratterizzata (soprattutto nei ritratti) da un’impostazione frontale e ieratica, ricca di citazioni colte, è il risultato di una raffinata mescolanza di stili artistici e grafici. Se nelle sue moderne Madonne è lecito rintracciare l’influenza di molta pittura rinascimentale – da Giovanni Bellini a Piero della Francesca, fino a Pisanello – nei ritratti più recenti affiora, per la prima volta un vivo interesse per la pittura simbolista, filtrata però dalla sua tipica sensibilità lineare.

La reinventata tipologia mariana della Mendini sfocia, così, in una carrellata di fisionomie che alludono all’eterno femminino decadente, epurato, però, di ogni connotato drammatico. Fate e ninfe rubate al catalogo dei Fairy Tales Painting vittoriani si accompagnano, infatti, ai classici modelli di veneri preraffaellite e alle fatali dame secessioniste interpretate alla luce di una grammatica ultrapiatta che fa pensare alla pittura segnaletica di Julian Opie. Venus Verticordia, a cominciare dal titolo, è una rilettura del celebre dipinto di Dante Gabriel Rossetti corredato da floreali allusioni all’immaginario ornamentale di William Morris, mentre la più moderna Belide, sovrappone al nitore fotografico di Loretta Lux il ricordo di un ritratto di Helene Klimt, figlia del famoso maestro viennese.

Madonna della conchiglia

Fulvia Mendini, Madonna della conchiglia, 2014, acrilico su tela, 69×60 cm

Inedita, invece, è l’attrazione di Fulvia Mendini verso il paesaggio, anche questa volta derivato da suggestioni simboliste. La natura, finora confinata al mondo di piante e fiori, assume finalmente una dimensione ambientale e si distende, dietro i ritratti in primo piano, in orizzonti montani che molto devono ai paesaggi alpini di Giovanni Segantini e degli svizzeri Ferdinand Hodler, Cuno Amiet e Alexandre Perrier.

L’artista costruisce un universo bidimensionale apparentemente semplice, dove ogni figura assume una fisionomia aliena e ogni landscape sembra il fondale di un videogame, ma dentro i suoi paradisi terrestri, aristocraticamente elementari e improntati al più puro godimento ottico, si nascondono riferimenti a raffinati, preziosi episodi della storia dell’arte. Ciò che sembra una pittura facile, immediatamente fruibile, è invece un ipertesto visivo, che nasconde in superficie un numero impressionante d’informazioni. La forza dei linguaggi di Fulvia Mendini e Andy Rementer sta tutta qui. Ossia nell’aver compreso che – come diceva Bruno Munari, facendo eco a Leo Longanesi – “complicare è facile, semplificare è difficile”.

Info:
Fulvia Mendini | Andy Rementer - The age of innocence
a cura di Ivan Quaroni
11.02 - 2.04.2016
Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea
Via Solferino 44, Milano
Tel/Fax 02.29060171 - info@colomboarte.com

The age of innocence

 

by Ivan Quaroni

 

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)

Simplicity in art is generally complexity resolved.
(Constantin Brâncuşi)

 

Stampa

Fulvia Mendini, Lollipop

We are in an era of clear sublimation of three-dimensionality, an evident effect of an ultra-mimetic phase of digital technologies. 3D no longer imitates reality, but surpasses it in the name of a super-definition of the optical experience that, however, winds up flattening the imaginative contribution of the spectator. I think everyone has experience the irritation generated by watching a film (or a video game) in 3D, in which the enforced application of the technique leads to an impoverishment, rather than an enhancement, of aesthetic or recreational pleasure. What the special effects geeks and the tweakers of the video game industry cannot manage to understand is that the human mind takes an active part in viewing, altering and restructuring visual perceptions based on already absorbed concepts. Phenomena like the scotoma, the priming effect, passive misdirection, selective blindness and other curious mental tricks, have been known for a long time to both scientists and stage magicians.

René Magritte believed that “the mind loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.” To look at an image, then, means engaging in the challenge of a mystery the lies behind it. When the image instead contains too much information, when it is denotative, excessively caption-like with respect to its content, the mystery dissolves.

The painted works of Andy Rementer and Fulvia Mendini do not run this risk. In spite of the apparent simplicity of their paintings, which are not however lacking in precious details and erudite references, Rementer and Mendini demonstrate that they are understood the communicative but above all seductive potential of the two-dimensional language, which makes up for the subtraction of elements of perspective and chiaroscuro with an augmented allusive capacity of line and color. Typical of many forms of antique art, like Byzantine and medieval art until the 1300s, two-dimensionality has been a characteristic that crosses many 20th-century currents. It consists of a representation that concentrates only on parameters of height and width, in which the sacrifice of any effect of spatial depth also winds up altering the temporal and narrative dimension.

One typical example of this mechanism is Picasso’s Guernica, perhaps the most famous work of two-dimensional art of all time, where the pictorial synthesis and anti-perspective alignment of all the figures on the same plane produce the loftiest model of simultaneous narration, in the wake of what had already happened in the paratactic structure of Paleo-Christian reliefs and the frescoes of the Early Middle Ages, clustering the various episodes of a story. Neither of the two artists makes use of this expedient, however. More than in the narrative plot – very pithy, in the case of Andy Rementer, totally abolished in the paintings of Fulvia Mendini – the effects of the use of a synthetic language can be seen in the iconic impact of the figures, partially inherited from Pop Art and partially from the communicative economy of design, in which both have a background.

LA_GAZZA_LADRA

Andy Rementer, La Gazza ladra, 2015, oil on canvas, 122×76 cm

Hailing from New Jersey, Andy Rementer studied Graphic Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and then worked as an illustrator and cartoonist for periodicals like the New York Times, the New Yorker, Apartamento and the Creative Review, and as an animator for MTV and Warner Bros. He spent two years in Treviso at Fabrica, the communications research center of Benetton Group, in the company of a handful of international researchers specializing in graphics, design, photography, video, music and journalism. During his time in Italy the artist developed a visual language driven not only by design, comics and cartoons, but also by European art and, in particular, medieval, Byzantine and Renaissance art, encountered in his frequent trips to Venice.

In the works of Andy Rementer flatness is expressed through a series of characters with compact silhouettes and sharp edges, often standing out against the backdrop of a cityscape. The metropolis is the protagonist of a series of quick episodes, very simple stories that nevertheless reveal the extraordinary character of everyday experience. The artist annuls the details of space and time and sets his characters in a silent, suspended dimension with almost 20th-century overtones. It is no coincidence that he cites Ferdinand Léger as one of his main influences, though the tendency to be concise comes from the reading of stories by Raymond Carver, where narrative economy is combined with terse, minimal language.

TOGETHER

Andy Rementer, Together

While the full forms of his figures remind us at times of those painted by the Europeans in the context of the “return to order” of the 1920s and 1930s, the objects and furnishings that appear in the domestic interiors point to his dual interest in design and Italian Metaphysical Art. As a proper cosmopolitan, and with the brashness of one accustomed to crossing all disciplinary boundaries, Rementer condenses a variety of interests in the pop lexicon, at the intersection between past and present, but also between art, graphics and illustration. Doing so, he reinvents a cheerfully neurotic, vivaciously melancholy urban mythology, well-suited to the contradictions of modern society.

LA_PAUSA_800PX

Andy Rementer, La pausa

After studying Graphic Design and Illustration at the European Design Institute in Milan, Fulvia Mendini worked at Atelier Mendini and, at the same time, developed her own research on painting and decoration, concentrating in particular on portraiture and the world of natural forms. A versatile artist, Mendini has worked with artisans and companies, making ceramics, sculptures, carpets, murals, jewelry and handbags. Her painting, characterized (especially in the portraits) by a frontal, hieratic arrangement, full of erudite citations, is the result of a refined mixture of artistic and graphic styles. While in her modern Madonnas we can see the influence of Renaissance painting – from Giovanni Bellini to Piero della Francesca, all the way to Pisanello – in the more recent portraits a lively interest surfaces for the first time in Symbolist painting, but filtered by her typical linear sensibility.

Madonnina dell' umiltà

Fulvia Mendini, Madonnina dell’umiltà, 2015, acrilico su legno, 23×1\7 cm

The reinvented Marian typology of Mendini converges in a medley of physiognomies that allude to a decadent eternal femininity, but purged of any dramatic connotations. Fairies and nymphs stole from the catalogue of Victorian “fairy painting” are accompanied, in fact, by classic models of Pre-Raphaelite Venuses and Secessionist femmes fatales interpreted with an ultraflat grammar that brings to mind the signage-like painting of Julian Opie. Venus Verticordia, starting with its title, is a re-reading of the famous painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, provided with floral allusions to the ornamental imaginary of William Morris, while the more modern Belide overlaps the photographic clarity of Loretta Lux with the memory of a portrait of Helene Klimt, daughter of the famous Viennese master.

Proserpina

Fulvia Mendini, Proserpina, 2009, acrilico su tela, 69×60

Fulvia Mendini’s attraction to the landscape, on the other hand, is unprecedented, and again comes from Symbolist suggestions. Nature, previously confined to the world of plants and flowers, finally takes on an environmental dimension and spreads, behind the portraits in the foreground, into mountainous horizons that owe a lot to the Alpine paintings of Giovanni Segantini and the Swiss painters Ferdinand Hodler, Cuno Amiet and Alexandre Perrier.

The artist constructs an apparently simple two-dimensional universe where each figure takes on an alien physiognomy and every landscape seems like the background of a video game. But inside her earthly paradises, aristocratically elementary and bent on pure optical enjoyment, references are lurking to refined, precious episodes in the history of art. What looks like easy, immediately enjoyable painting is instead a visual hypertext that conceals an impressive amount of information. The force of the languages of Fulvia Mendini and Andy Rementer lies here: in having understood that – as Bruno Munari said, echoing Leo Longanesi – “complicating things is easy, simplifying them is hard.

Info:
Fulvia Mendini | Andy Rementer - The age of innocence
curated by Ivan Quaroni
11.02 - 2.04.2016
Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea
Via Solferino 44, Milano (Italy)
Tel/Fax 02.29060171 - info@colomboarte.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Heshka. A fantastic history of Canada

27 Mar

by Ivan Quaroni

Ryan Heshka, Romance of Canada, 2015, acrylic and mixed media on wood, 40x50 cm

Ryan Heshka, Romance of Canada, 2015, acrylic and mixed media on wood, 40×50 cm

As we know, life and art are closely linked, even when the latter seems to be only the offspring of unbridled fantasy. Take the case of the Canadian artist Ryan Heshka: 44 years old, with a degree in Interior Design and a past as an animator and illustrator for famous magazines like Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, Playboy and Esquire. Mentioned in the leading American illustration annuals, and having published three children’s books translated in many languages, Ryan Heshka – prior to devoting himself body and soul to art – had already developed his own very personal fantastic vision, influenced by cartoonists like Jack Kirby and Basil Wolverton, sci-fi films, pulp magazines and, in short, all the imagery of pop culture a young North American could absorb.

One might think that life, real life, hasn’t got much to do with pin-ups, superheroes, giant robots, monsters and the cardboard sets of old b-movies. But that is not true. If you were a kid in a country like Canada in the 1970s, notorious for its long, very cold winters, you would know what it’s like to hang around for hours at home searching for pastimes to ward off boredom.

Ryan Heshka, Fulvia and Ulva, 2015, oil and mixed on wood panel, 45x35 cm

Ryan Heshka, Fulvia and Ulva, 2015, oil and mixed on wood panel, 45×35 cm

The art of Ryan Heshka begins like that, during a dilated, padded childhood in the warmth of a domestic setting, while he kills time playing, reading comics, watching sci-fi movies, cultivating his own imagination, day after day. So far so normal. All Canadian kids have a similar childhood, in one way or another. But Ryan Heshka has something more. He is a creative youngster who draws a lot and shoots homemade stop motion films with a Super 8 camera. And we should consider the influence on him of growing up in a nation with wild nature, full of mountains, rivers, lakes and forests, home to animals like the elk, the moose, the lynx, the caribou, the polar bear, the grizzly and the beaver, and even fantasy creatures like Sasquatch or Bigfoot. A child, and one with clear artistic leanings, cannot help but be permanently marked by that sort of experience.

Ryan Heshka, Hockey Widow, 2015, oil and mixed media on board, 33x28 cm

Ryan Heshka, Hockey Widow, 2015, oil and mixed media on board, 33×28 cm

Anyway, Ryan Heshka grew up with a good amount of pragmatism, so he aimed his creativity at commercial applications. He studied and worked for a while in the field of Interior Design and then in that of animation, but certain memories die hard, and the impressions of the early years of his life stuck with him. And it is true that the more you grow up the more certain memories become vivid. So in 2000 Ryan returned to his old passion. Practical people might say that he passed to the “dark side of the force” and by transforming art into his main activity he took a leap into the unknown. But for me, this is the typical behavior of a Jedi: to risk everything to concentrate, body and soul, on something that more closely corresponds to the idea you had of yourself as a child.

Ryan Heshka, Canadian Military, 2015, gouache, collage and mixed media on vintage paper, 57x77 cm

Ryan Heshka, Canadian Military, 2015, gouache, collage and mixed media on vintage paper, 57×77 cm

Romance of Canada, the title of the second solo show by Heshka at Galleria Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea, is a return to the roots and, at the same time, a tribute to the nation of many lakes, seen through the twisted gaze of childhood. Heshka takes his cue from Canadian clichés and stereotypes to construct an original image of his country, a new identity suspended between present and future, fiction and reality.

Setting aside, at least for the moment, the monsters and the tin robots, the artist concentrates on the telling of what, if possible, is an even more dreamy, rarified tale. There is no lack of surreal and even noir atmosphere, at times, as is typical in his work, as well as the references to the graphic stylemes of comics and the illustration of the Golden Age, but we can also sense a more personal, autobiographical imprint.

Ryan Heshka, Masters of the Man-Dogs, 2015, acrylic and mixed media on wood, 55x69 cm

Ryan Heshka, Masters of the Man-Dogs, 2015, acrylic and mixed media on wood, 55×69 cm

Romance of Canada marks the passage towards a more detailed kind of painting, in which the typical chromatic palette of the artist – composed of blaring yellows, pale pinks, bright reds and intense shades of blue – meets with the introduction of new iconographic themes. The exhibition, containing about thirty works including gouaches on paper and oils and mixed media on canvas, is conceived as a fictional, imaginary representation of the North American nation. Each painting, in fact, makes reference to a city, a specific place, or to well-known aspects of the history and lifestyle of the country, such as rituals, customs, festivities, filtered through a gaze dominated by the figures of speech of metaphor and allegory.

Constructing his imaginary Canada, at the crossroads of history, folklore and science fiction, Ryan Heshka doesn’t refrain from taking some jabs at the domestic clichés of the land of the Maple Leaf.

Canadian Military, for example, pokes fun at the proverbial ranked structure of the armed forces, hypothesizing and army that seems to have emerged from the pages of Weird Tales, the popular sci-fi comics magazine of the 1950s. There’s a bit of everything: a three-legged robot, a woman with two heads, a platoon of riflemen with snowshoes, two swordsmen in funny carnival costumes, a sniper in spike heels, a sexy telegraph operator, a human target and movie camera, a kamikaze frog, a lobster standard bearer, a beaver nurse and a kid dressed up as a rocket. In short, it’s the nuttiest and shabbiest militia you could imagine, arrayed in order to form a sort of Christmas tree, topped by a scroll with an absurdly comical battle cry: “I’m sorry”.

Ryan Heshka, Canadian Home Movies, 2015, acrylic and mixed on illustration board, 10x7 cm

Ryan Heshka, Canadian Home Movies, 2015, acrylic and mixed on illustration board, 10×7 cm

Maybe not everyone knows that “I’m sorry” is a recurring phrase in the English lexicon of Canada, famous for endless shades of meaning. It is said, in fact, that while the English almost never use this expression, the Canadians abuse it. Heshka has made it the national motto of his private Canada. I’m Sorry. National Flag is a banner that resembles, however, a plate from a medieval bestiary, with the animals arranged symmetrically on a black field, as in the finest heraldic tradition.

Stereotypes, clichés and references to today’s Canada wind through all the paintings. One is about hockey widows, the wives of professional players of the Canadian national sport, who during the play-offs are forced to live in a condition of widow-like solitude. With his usual dark humor, Heshka imagines one of these women in front of the hibernated body of her husband, interred with his hockey stick, in the uniform of his team.

Winter Festival contains a veiled allusion to the events and festivities that happen in Canada in the winter months, like the one that enlivens Niagara Falls every year with fireworks and pyrotechnic spectacles. But the painting Winter Fall, with a mysterious, melancholy girl seated on a block of ice, also contains a terse survey of national fauna, with certain specimens also found in Red Beaver Bandit, Blue Birds and Myth of the Blue Caribou.

Ryan Heshka, Winter Festival, 2015, oil and mixed, 32x26 cm

Ryan Heshka, Winter Festival, 2015, oil and mixed, 32×26 cm

Another big role in Heshka’s work is played by landscape, mostly snow and ice, as in Canada in Colour, or featuring menacing mutant flora, as in Ravages of Pine Disease and The Floral Entity. The most disturbing and spectacular scenarios, however, are those of Romance of Canada and Masters of the Man-Dogs. The first is a small mixed media on panel that illustrates an episode worthy of Fortitude, the hit BBC TV show set in the Arctic Circle. The second is a choral scene of submission that could easily stand up to the cruelest fantasies of Henry Darger[1]. And, in effect, The Realms of the Unreal, in reference to the hypertrophic narration illustrated by the outsider artist from Chicago, would be a perfect subtitle for the Romance of Canada series. Also because besides being unreal and fantastic, Heshka’s Canada, like the real Canada, is still a kingdom, a monarchy, though a parliamentary one, with two national anthems, one of which is the famous (and British) “God Save the Queen”.

Ryan Heshka, Wood Gang of Lake Winnipegosis, 2015, gouache and mixed on vinatge paper, 24x18 cm

Ryan Heshka, Wood Gang of Lake Winnipegosis, 2015, gouache and mixed on vinatge paper, 24×18 cm

Politics aside, Heshka’s Canada seems like the dream triggered by an unbridled imagination, and overturned utopia halfway between Tim Burton and Wes Anderson, populated by wild creatures and genetic aberrations, aliens and superheroes and, above all, a range of pin-ups, vamps, femme fatales and cover girls that would even make Mel Ramos green with envy.

In short, this Canada is like an old lost film of RKO Pictures you always wanted to see, like the last episode of a series that has kept you glued to the screen for months, like the out-of-print book of illustrations you once owned and regret having lost, like the definitive cartoon that still needs to be invented, something you have barely glimpsed from the corner of your eye and can no longer do without.

In a nutshell, while I’m waiting to see Heshka’s paintings up close, I feel like someone who has never seen the first episode of Twin Peaks…

Ryan Heshka, Ravages of Pine Disease, 2015, oil and mixed on paper, 40x28 cm

Ryan Heshka, Ravages of Pine Disease, 2015, oil and mixed on paper, 40×28 cm

[1] Henry Darger (Chicago, 1892-1973) was a self-taught American artist who had Tourette syndrome, and is considered one of the greatest exponents of “outsider” art. His most famous work is a fantasy manuscript of over 15,000 pages entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. Known simply as The Realms of the Unreal, this gigantic work features hundreds of collages and watercolors that illustrate the stories of the Vivian Girls, hermaphrodite children waging a bloody war against the Glandelinian generals.

——————-

RYAN HESHKA – ROMANCE OF CANADA
curated by Ivan Quaroni
Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea Gallery
Via Solferino 44, Milan (Italy)
From March 26 | 2015 to May 16 | 2015

http://www.colomboarte.com