June 17 - July 15, 2017 | St. Helena
Artist Reception, Saturday, June 17 | 4 - 6 pm
Wine generously provided by Castello di Amorosa
"Greatness, in my mind, is when your personal mastery inspires the masses."
For painter Ryan Jones, classic realism gets a fresh update in his bold compositions.
“Through my work, I aim to bring life to classical motifs and show them in a modern and contemporary way.”
His third exhibition at Caldwell Snyder Gallery opens June 17 and will run until mid July. It features paintings from his most recent body of work, one that continues to explore intimate moments through a voyeuristic lens. “Focusing on a small gesture or pose leaves more to the imagination” says Jones, “I’ve framed a sliver of a moment, but its ultimate meaning will come from the viewer’s own experiences and history.”
It is this attention to nuance that fuels Jones’ work and keeps his audience suspended between fantasy and reality. His paintings tug at viewer’s curiosity, offering a fleeting glimpse into the private lives of his characters. “I am drawn towards the relationship between what we see and don’t see, and how it informs our own version of the narrative.”
Caldwell Snyder Gallery recently sat down with the artist to discuss his upcoming exhibition. Read the interview below.
What is a typical day for you? Do you have rituals or routines?
A good morning is waking up with some stretching, taking the dog for a walk, making a big cup of coffee and then starting to paint. On a great morning, I sleep in with my wife, the dog crawls in between us, I have bacon with my big cup of coffee and then I start painting. The most productive time for making my art is first thing in the morning and late at night. I typically work for a few hours at a time with breaks to eat and get my body moving with a workout. The endorphins help to keep me focused for when I later return to my work. While I’m painting I like to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks.
Describe your process. How do you move from an idea to a finished painting?
Ideas start either in my sketchbook as small thumbnail drawings, or as concepts and collages in my head that make their way onto the computer. During the early stages of an idea, I rely on photoshop to explore color and composition ideas. It’s not uncommon that I make many iterations of an idea before I settle on the final concept. My end result “typically” doesn’t deviate too far from this image of what I want it to be. On the canvas itself, I start with a pencil drawing outlining figures and forms. Followed by an underpainting which blocks in mid-tone color values and helps guide layout. If there are large geometric shapes in the work, I use stencils and masking tape to create crisp lines. The finished oil painting emerges a few layers of paint later. Once I’m happy with it, the painting will typically dry in my studio for a few weeks before it receives a final coat of varnish to protect it and even out the sheen.
What has been a seminal experience? Does your personal history make its way into your work?
Traveling, living in another country, and visiting art fairs and museums around the world has impacted my work the most. This has provided perspective and exposure to new ideas, thoughts and beliefs.
How would you describe your most recent body of work?
My most recent work has a bold combination of classical and modern themes. There is a strong dialog between characters and their surroundings, juxtaposed with material taken from a range of sources including abstract shapes, maps, and music.I am drawn towards the relationship between what we see and don’t see, and how it informs our own version of the the narrative.
Over the past year, water appears in a number of my paintings and I’m fascinated by its abstract and wild nature, contrasted against the human from which is often smooth and controlled. Another theme that I have enjoyed exploring is the idea of torn paper or a torn photograph. Having one single image divided by what looks like a paper tear, revealing another image behind. This makes an interesting 2d and 3d dialog and tells a story of what lies underneath the main subject.
Your paintings feel intimate-- they tend to focus on a gesture or pose. What inspires you about these subtle moments?
Focusing on a small gesture or pose leaves more to the imagination. I’ve framed a sliver of a moment, but it’s ultimate meaning will come from the viewer’s own experiences and history. By leaving the intention and meaning not entirely known, people write their own story.
Glamour, nostalgia, and travel are consistent themes in your paintings. What draws you to these motifs?
Being raised in a culture where movies and television are a fun escape from everyday life, I’ve always been fascinated with vintage movie posters, book covers, magazine ads, cars, and old hollywood noir images -- which all show up as themes in my work.
What fuels your work? What are you presently inspired by?
My art is heavily inspired by the past and seen through the lens of the present. Through my work, I aim to bring life to classical motifs and show them in a modern and contemporary way. Continually exploring fresh ways I can incorporate abstraction into my work and create a dialog between traditional realism and modernism keeps me inspired.
Which other artists do you consider your work to be in conversation with?
David Salle and Eric Fischl. Both of their books are on the shelf in my studio and I have a real appreciation for their art.
Who taught you the most about art?
3 people. My Dad taught me that art is fun. My high school art teacher Javier Sanchez taught me art technique. And my Stanford art professor Enrique Chagoya taught me art should say something.
Do you have a motto?
Greatness, in my mind, is when your personal mastery inspires the masses. I also have this quote hanging in my studio:
“I choose to sail the seas of consequence to new lands. Laps in the shallow end of the pool, not for me.” - David Lee Roth