Romance of Canada
Curated by Ivan Quaroni
Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporanea is proud to present Romance of Canada, the third Italian solo show by Ryan Heshka, a Canadian artist born in Winnipeg (Manitoba), who recoups the language of comics, illustrations and B-movies of the 1930s and 1950s, through fantastic, dreamy paintings filled with pin-ups, superheroes, robots and alien monsters that seem to have emerged from the pages of an old pulp magazine.
For Romance of Canada Heshka turns to Canadian clichés and stereotypes, attempting to construct an original image of his nation, balanced between reality and fiction, past and future.
Heshka’s viewpoint is the personal, autobiographical position of a child that during the very long, very cold winter months is forced to spend time at home, drawing, playing, reading comics, watching science fiction films and shooting Super 8 movies, simply cultivating his own imagination. The artist blends his childhood memories with the image of a postcard Canada, a snowy land of evergreen forests and frozen lakes, the habitat of deer, beavers and legendary creatures like the Sasquatch, or Bigfoot (the mythical hominid).
The exhibition of about thirty works, including gouaches on paper, oil paintings and mixed media works on panels, has been conceived as a fantastic, fictional representation of this North American nation. Each painting makes reference to a specific city or place, or to aspects of the history and customs of the country, such as holidays, scenes of everyday life, but also crimes and sporting events.
In the construction of his imaginary Canada, balanced between history, folklore and science fiction, Heshka takes ironic stabs at the domestic clichés of the Maple Leaf, from the drama of the wives of hockey players (Canada’s national sport) forced to live in a condition of “widow-like” solitude, to the proverbial ranked structure of the armed forces, all the way to the many different meanings of the phrase “I’m sorry,” characteristic of the English spoken in the Great Lakes Region.
Romance of Canada is a new phase in the career of Ryan Heshka, in which his painting has become more painstaking and detailed, with a seductive range of colors, while introducing new iconographic themes, as in the case of the large flag painted on canvas, a tribute to the finest tradition of vintage large biology charts of animals.
The Rite of Spring
Antonio Colombo presents, for Little Circus – the special project space inside the gallery – a solo show by 108, the pseudonym of Guido Bisagni, one of the first artists to work in the area of post-graffiti art.
For the exhibition The Rite of Spring 108 has made original works on canvas and paper that develop the relationship between abstract forms and chromatic potential that has always been part of his art. Influenced by artists like Kandinsky, Arp or Burri, for the research they conducted on the relationship between form and color, 108 also makes reference to more distant sources in time and space, such as the expressive sign of cave paintings and the magical attributes of shamanism.
The investigation proposed on this occasion pivots on the pictorial interpretation of the spring equinox, the point of balance between day and night, summer and winter, as temporary as it is unstable, like the forms assigned the task of evoking it. They are in fact subjected to conflicting energies, identifiable in the chromatic contrasts and in a line that often shifts from curved to jagged. In the parallel between day and night, the color range wavers between luminous and shadowy tones, just as the thought that gives form to the image struggles between rationality and irrationality, logic and chaos, in a dense clash of introspection and emotion.