Ryan De La Hoz has a thing for bones, skulls, and the Grim Reaper so it seems perfect that his last name literally means "of the sickle." Last week, Kristin and I braved a particularly rainy commute to check out his new digs (he recently moved his studio from the Mission to a larger space in Fairfield). We chatted about some of his childhood influences, the band he thinks best defines his aesthetic, and the ancestors he never knew about.
Ryan in his new habitat
Tell us about your art and the idea of "Residual Energy."
"One of the major underlying themes in my art is how fragile everything is, especially life. I've been dealing with this idea of landscapes that are void of any people or figures. I feel like there are a lot of things on the earth -- beautiful things -- that people forget about in their daily lives. A lot of this art is supposed to be like the most beautiful thing you can imagine -- like the crystals or geodes in this case -- and it's sort of covered up, like no one wants to see it anymore. The skeleton gloves represent artifacts of existence. They're like bones, but they're not. And the ladders represent abandoned progress."
Residual Energies series
"I'm still into everything I liked as a kid. I love Swamp Thing, and The Ninja Turtles, and ooze and stuff like that. I love slime, it's really that simple. I love Ghostbusters, and ectoplasm, and Slimer. It's me thinking about how I feel about the environment now, and mixing it with what I liked as a kid. All of these landscapes have the same theme, and I call them Residual Energies."
So what's covering up the beautiful crystals is mounds of slime?
"It could be pollution, it could be anything. I don't want to sound preachy, talking about the environment; I just want my art to be thought-provoking."
What about your teepee pieces, the little encampments?
"I recently found out that I'm 25% Yaqui Indian. I started researching Yaqui Indians, they were on the border of Arizona, and the pictures of them look like my family. I started reading all their folklore at the beginning of last year, so those pieces came from me finding out more about myself. It's weird to think you have something in you that you didn't know about, and I like putting myself into my art. I'm really into folklore in general, but the Yaqui Indian folklore that I researched is so interesting. They had some good beliefs."
What music would best represent your art?
"I really like this band called Battles. Their first album is called Mirrored and there's a song on that album called Rainbow. I think that could totally represent my stuff."
Check out Ryan's art, including an installation, and pick up his brand new, full-color zine at Heist Gallery on February 5th, 2010. With 2010 shows lined up in San Francisco, Portland, and New York and a killer zine on the loose, we have a feeling you'll be hearing a lot more about Ryan De La Hoz in the very near future.