i'm super excited to post this interview w/ kyle ranson. he's not only one of my favorite artists, he's also one of those peeps you see around san francisco that is always so positive and friendly. this energy spills straight into his work. although kyle paints pretty intense subjects, it's as if his use of intoxicating color almost suspends the reality of the scenes. making it difficult to not be completely into it. i love it.
he is beyond busy these days, and as he said in a recent email: 'life is raaaad'. it certainly seems that way. kyle took a minute to answer some q's for me via email while he was in england.
hi kyle! how are you? how's life treating you?
howdy. at the moment i am at emerson college in forest rowe, outside of london visiting a friend. it's part of the waldorf schools. it's on an organic farm and there is a lot of sacred geometry and wicker man style things going on here. it's beautiful. there's pigs and sheep and chickens and cows and a lot of hippies. i walked around an old graveyard this morning then checked out some stained glass windows in the church. i have been working my ass off so this is a really relaxing treat before the mayhem continues...
you've got a few shows coming up...can you tell us about them?
i am part of a group show in london called hope springs eternal at 96 gillespie on February 29th. me, monica canilao, mat obrien, zara thustra, paul urich, chis duncan, bill daniel and the polaroid kidd. andrew from needles and pens set up the show. the gallery is run by pat graham who is a photographer. he took lots of pictures of lots of bands. he took the picture on the bikini kill record and toured with modest mouse and documented them and such. snapped a lot of pics of dischord bands...
anyhoo, then i am off to brussels on the first of march to begin setting up a show with maya hayuk. chris duncan will be coming out to install for that as well. that show is called apocybliss and is at the alice gallery in brussels on the 20th of march. then maya and i go to barcelona to do a show on april 2nd at the premiere opening of a raw food restaurant with a gallery in the front. i can't remember the name off the top of my head...well, jesus, thats a lot! in july, i will be in a show at gregory lind in sf called 3. then in august monica invited me to do a show at 1026 in philly. fuck. after writing all that down i am a little overwhelmed.
one of the things i really love about your work is how emotional it is. your bio says "his bold paintings often deal with extreme subject matter and can demand alot of the viewer" can you break that down for me?
personally, i am not into feel good art. i think it's the artist's job to be thought provoking and antagonistic. our society already has so much mind numbing visual garbage that i think its important to take stance against it, to cut through the treacle and shake people awake. unfortunately, most people prefer to be half asleep. that's why i like to use really beautiful vibrant colors and patterns, to make things so visually enticing that the viewer can't help but
look long enough for the message to get in.
you are always so positive and up for what ever comes your way it seems, have you always been like that? what gets you out of bed in the morning?
i have had a pretty horribly dark past and i am pretty lucky to be alive. something changed inside. i was given a gift and now the world no longer looks like an open grave to me. now it looks like an unopened present.
who are your favorite artists?
durer, paul klee, holbein, kathy kollwitz, william blake, grunewald, man ray, jean arp, the northern european masters who were doing a blend of medieval and renaissance painting after being influenced by what was coming out of italy. the dadaists were total rulers. there are also my contemporaries. chris johanson, daniel higgs, the folks in the show...
old medieval tapestries, illuminated bible illustrations, indian art, alchemical illustrations, pretty much any religious art. the crowley deck. magik symbolism. any art that addresses how to find the god within.
i'm not sure if it's because i would see your mural almost everyday in clarion alley in sf or just that i know you from san francisco...but your work really reminds me of the vibrancy and electricity of san francisco. would you agree w/ that? are you encouraged and inspired by san francisco?
i have had a love hate relationship with san francisco for 14 years now. it is a tough art market but very inspiring because of talented people. but the rent is ridiculous and the city will end up squeezing out the people that bring art and life and love. whatever. it's the whole gentrification issue which as a poor artist i unfortunately have a part in. that question is a can o' worms...
do you think you will ever leave sf?
i would love to travel all the time and go back there to relax. who knows what the world has to offer. i am not into making plans. i want to see what happens...
i know when you are painting you like to put on a movie and just paint all night...what are some of your favorite films to watch? do you have repeats that you continually get?
i love to listen to mixed tapes but if i put a movie on its usually a documentary. that way i can mostly just listen to it. i love any nature documentary and the planet earth series is my latest favorite. stephen hawking's universe, carl sagans cosmos. anything that gets my mind blown.
have any of the films made it into your work?
what are you listening to these days?
needles and pens is selling them and its been exciting. someone from indonesia bought two. that is so exciting to me! to think of a record i made spinning on a turntable on the other side of the planet gets my rocks off! we are gonna start recording at the end of may and now we are playing with a drummer. wendy farina of the band TITS.
your mother was very encouraging to you as a child, looking back on things did you ever imagine you would be showing your work all over the world?
yes. i always knew that someday i would. i didn't know when or what it would look like but i knew that someday i would if i could just keep from killing myself in the meantime.
what are your plans this year?
god, i think i just told you!
anything else you want to leave us w/?
just thank you for all the kind words and interest.