Humorous, material-rich paintings by New York-based artist Ryan Foley are energetic, visceral and messy. Super great interview here, and keep tabs on his Instagram (link below)!
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Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
nyc-based, tyler mfa painting 2012. crawling around the floor like a cockroach sifting thru trash is typically frowned upon but why? trash can be very tender: whack paintings, old clothes, emo sketchbook pages, things lived thru that feel real. cutting these things up feels liberating. gluing them down feels perverted. executing a maneuver that turns them into something new can be very surprising.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
my first memory is of drawing a picture of the priest at at my father's funeral when i was 5. my mom saved the picture and i got it tattooed on my arm a few years ago. since a child, art has been therapeutic and necessary.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
'm interested in the fully-curated existence. one big collage where there is no separation between what is 'art' and what is 'life.'
What is your process like?
i like to recycle old things, often things that make me uncomfortable: paintings, clothes, poems. i keep a few boxes of collage material around. i have to edit pretty fiercely otherwise i'd be a hoarder. it's intuition-based. sometimes a 'good' drawing might have to go but a weird little scrap of cardboard has to stay. i usually just start sifting. when dealing with materials that have been lived-in or made by me, i start thinking about stuff: people, places, things, feelings, and different ides start fluttering through. the key is to remain present and un-precious in these moments. cut, glue to a canvas, paint on it, rip it off, repeat until i reach a comfortable resting point that somehow feels uncomfortable. i usually make one thing at a time but it usually happens fast.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?:
'economy of means, density of meaning' - dona nelson
Describe your studio.
i like working where i live. it ties into the desire to have a fully-curated existence. i like to be very intentional about what i live with. i would rather live with my art than a kitchen table. it's a holistic lifestyle approach, not i live here but i make work here, it's all everywhere.
What do you find most challenging, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?:
being 'on' all the time socially is a big challenge, especially being a sober person. but it makes interactions more intentional and genuine. of course restricted time, space, and money are challenges but that is not limited to pursuing art. i think art is the place life can exist truly as one wants it to, so i wish i could liberate some of the aforementioned concerns from my existence but that is a different conversation.
If you could sit down for dinner or a drink with anyone, who would it be and what would you chat about?:
kanye west. fear.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
self be true
What do you do when you find yourself in a creative rut?
just get my hands moving. dig through a pile, flip through an old notebook, play music, go running.
What do you love most about your medium? What challenges or surprises you most about it?
i love the inherent energy of non-art materials. but i also love to make paintings. i like the tension created between the two.
What do you need or value most as an artist?
a sacred space and freedom to be an individual.
What keeps you creating?
the image of myself homeless and drunk in a gutter
What are you working on right now?
a trompe l'eoil painting with a tie-dye shirt and floral shower curtain.
Find more on Instagram @humancentigram!
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