Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Artist of the Week

Ryan Bubnis

This time of year it is easy to see many smiling faces filling the streets, rushing to the malls, giving to charities. It is truly a joyous season, and it is only amplified if you have children. However, there are so many individuals out there who don't view the holidays in the same way. Maybe they are alone, or unable to provide for their families, or maybe they just lost a loved one. They are down, depressed, and possibly confused. No matter the season there is always this contrast in the world, and it is the interaction between the two that many find interesting.

One artist who is defining this interaction is Portland resident, Ryan Bubnis. Ryan tends focus more on the vibrant joy of life, but upon examination one can find moments of pure sadness hidden through his work. He uses amazing color combinations, and many intrigue details to convey the contrast between joy and pain. Since receiving his BFA in illustration from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2006, his work has been shown extensively throughout the US, Taiwan and Canada. He has a show with Tristan Eaton & Filth opening on 12/5/07 at Compound Gallery, Portland, OR.

Recently, Ryan took some time out from preparing for his show to send us a few brand new images and answer a few of our questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Ryan Bubnis (RB): Urban Folk or an electric folk pop explosion

OA: The faces in your paintings are typically smiling and looking very positive. This in turn evokes a sense happiness and optimism in those viewing your work. How did you come to paint these faces? Did they evolve from something else? Have they are been a part of your work?
RB: I definitely try to promote a feeling of optimism within my work but at the same time I hope I am able to convey some sort of personal struggle as well. Something that really touches on human emotion and something I hope the viewer can relate to. Good vs. evil, the ups and downs, fighting through adversity, basically finding piece within one self. There is so much ignorance and negativity in the world it’s really easy to feed into and be a part of that cycle. These characters remind me that I need to stay positive and do my part to be a good and loving person. Painting and creating art is a very magical and spiritual thing for me. I just want to spread the love.

I think with earlier work I was focusing more of my own personal struggles and sadness and that’s what was coming through in the paintings. I’m at a better place in my life right now and I think that shows in the work. The characters, figures, symbols and objects are constantly evolving in my work but I also like to believe I have a unique recognizable style.
OA: Did you intentionally try to evoke those same emotions through your use of color?
RB: I don’t know if it’s something I do consciously but yeah, I do think it’s something that comes across with the vibrant colors I use within my work. In previous work I think color palettes were a lot darker. I work so intuitively these days. I like to believe I’m channeling some greater power, it decides what marks I make and what colors I use. It’s a process of bouncing in and out of conscious and subconscious thoughts. My trip to Argentina in March of 2007 also had a major impact of my current color choices.

OA: How do you approach the naming of your pieces? What role do you think the title should play in the viewing of your pieces, and of art in general?
RB: Sometimes a title comes about before I actual begin painting; sometimes I figure it out during the painting process and other times it can be weeks later. It really differs for me. A title can be used to give the viewer a clue as to the meaning of the piece. This can either be good or bad. The viewers own interpretation of the painting is just as valid as mine so I like to leave my titles open-ended. I think titles are necessary for documenting the work so you know what specific piece you are referring to.
OA: Early this year you collaborated on a piece with fellow artist Robert Hardgrave (aka Farmerbob). This seems like a relatively new and wonderful concept, where two artists bring each of their artistic qualities together to create one piece of art. How do you approach collaborations? What does this say about the current environment in the art world?
RB: Well, I don’t know if it’s such a new concept. A friend of mine just told me about a museum exhibition he recently saw where artists like Diego Rivera, Frida Kalo and others did a bunch of collaborative drawings and that these drawings reminded him of a game we play with a bunch our artist friends. Andrew Brandou started it and we do it almost every time we get together. We take turns drawing and then just trade back in forth until there is no more room on the paper. Recently there was a great session between Ron English, KRK Ryden, Anthony Ausgang, Daniel Martin Diaz, Amanda Visell, Korin Faught, Andrew Brandou, Gary Baseman and myself. We were all out in Mesa Arizona for our Beyond the Cel exhibition at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum.

Collaborations are fun and challenging. I approached Bob about collaborating on a piece while I was in Argentina. He is such a great person and an amazing and unique talent I definitely wanted to work with him. I remember getting back home and getting the half finished painting in the mail and being like, “Oh man, I have to do something great because I don’t want to mess up this beautiful piece of art.” It sat on my desk for over a week until I felt I was up to the challenge. I learned a lot doing that piece. I was extremely pleased with how it turned out and as an added bonus our mutual friend Colin Johnson, an amazing artist in his own right, purchased the piece. We’ve talked about doing another collaboration so once I free up some time it’s my turn to start one.
It’s just think it’s great that two like-minded artist can get together and create a singular piece of art.
OA: What's next for Ryan Bubnis?
RB: Bigger ideas, bigger more elaborate paintings, bigger exhibitions, bigger installations, a book of my Buena Onda painting series, possible Buena Onda clothing line and other surprises.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
RB: French press coffee, Guatemala and house blend, Stumptown Coffee Roasters….best coffee on the planet

OA: Do you ever listen to music while painting? Who are some of your favorites while painting and in general?
RB: Definitely, got the Ipod on shuffle. A huge range from The Beatles, to the Stones, Crystal Skulls, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Mf Doom, E-40, JT The Bigga Figga, Creedence, The Thermals, Jawbreaker, Ramones, Camera Obscura, The Smiths, The Cure, John Lee Hooker, Kool Keith, Gustavo Cerati, Soda Stereo, Depeche Mode, Spoon and some mixes my friend Josh Petker makes for me.

For more information on Ryan Bubnis please visit his website.

1 comment:

colin johnson said...

Awesome interview and artworks Ryan. And yup, the Bubnis/Hardgrave collaboration is rockin' some kick ass wall space in my kitchen right now! I dig getting to look at the original everyday!!