The work of Ryan De La Hoz exists in a very particular world, a world comprised of hauntingly nostalgic paper cut outs and drawings that look like a spooky cartoon reduced to the absolute minimum of expression. Delicate flowers, leaves and skeleton gloves contrast with gaping holes filled with dizzying Op-Art to create a landscape that seems like Tim Burton got together with Henri Matisse to make their own paradise. The works are so simplified they leave it up to viewers to project their own narrative on the scene. We each have our own idea of where each ladder leads, and what is hiding behind those geodes and mounds of slime. The compositions are mysteriously devoid of humans, yet laced with the shadows of human characters. The gloves of skeleton costumes pepper many of his works, as if to signify not only death, but a human representation of death. Another common symbol used by De La Hoz is the ladder, one loaded with symbolism. Ladders leaning into a spiraling abyss, or simply leading to no where, bring to mind the question of where are we going and where have we been. While De La Hoz does have the tendency to appear Halloween-ish, with his frequent use of pointed witches’ hats, cob webs, skeletons and blobby mounds with gaping mouths, the work transcends the threat of kitsch in its minimalism and precision. We are drawn to wonder about the age old truths, about death and what is left behind, and about what is hidden and what is revealed.
If Raul Gonzalez had a soundtrack to accompany his drawings, it would be a mash up of old Disney movie themes, Death Metal and Mariachi music. It’s a bizarre mix of badass and cute, (cute like a two-year old giving you the finger) all on color splotched and stained pages that make you feel like you’re getting a secret look into Gonzalez’s personal sketch book. You can imagine the free-association process that went into each image, each element building, as if at some point Gonzalez thinks to himself, ‘it would be rad if the chicken was coughing up a human tooth,’ or ‘this guy should have a beat up severed head in one hand and a flaming cigarette in the other.’ And what may look like stains or scribbles reveal themselves to be crucial compositional devices that contribute to the overall success of each illustration. Best of all is the playful freedom: while the characters are often beheaded, impaled, beaten, or in some state of peril, there is always an aspect of humor and joy. Even if it’s the kind of joy some of us got from frying an ant hill with a magnifying glass as kids. Gonzalez brings to mind some of most underappreciated cartoons to hit the glowing screens in American homes, shows like Ren & Stimpy, Beevis and Butthead, and even Itchy & Scratchy on The Simpsons. Shows that are so awesomely gross and hilariously violent they pull at the heart strings of those of us who liked to poke dead things with a stick.
As long as there have been artists, there have been people who recognized that the innovation and creativity of truly unique individuals should be nurtured. Beautiful/Decay Magazine is very pleased to announce its collaboration with the Canson & Royal Talens family of art supply brands on the Wet Paint Grants project.
Canson, Royal Talens and Arches have been manufacturing the highest quality art materials that inspire artists for centuries. Likewise, artists have been playing a key role in development of products that they make at their own mills.
Most recently, Canson and Beautiful/Decay teamed up to choose eight artists in the United States, who exemplify a passion and commitment to their craft. Over each of the next eight weeks, Beautiful/Decay will announce a new recipient of the Wet Paint Grant. Each artist chosen will receive a year’s worth of art supplies from any of the Canson family of brands. We hope the generosity of these grants will help each artist to leave limitations behind and produce the work that compels them. While the outside support of artists is an integral part of Art history, above all we congratulate and thank the artists, who are the impetus to brands like Canson, Royal Talens and Arches to continue encouraging the arts. Read about our first Wet Paint Grant recipient Wendell Gladstone after the jump.