Winnipeg artist Ryan Smoluk will open his first commercial gallery exhibition, Culture Shock, curated by his mentor and renowned artist Diana Thorneycroft. Culture Shock will showcase Ryan’s rich and complex paintings and sculptures – each with their own intricate story and journey.
Smoluk has faced adversity, but instead of allowing it to slow him down, he lets the challenges he’s faced inspire and influence his artwork. Smoluk has autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Verbally inactive for much of his childhood, Smoluk began drawing at a young age as a means of communication. He pursued his artistic interests into adulthood, obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Manitoba in 2013.
“My autism is both a blessing and a curse,” Smoluk says. “It definitely affects my work. I’ll get an image in my head of what I want to create and I HAVE to see it through with an almost relentless persistence.”
Smoluk’s process is organic, and begins with highly detailed colour sketches which he then brings to life. Often times the piece develops throughout the creative process and his initial intentions shift.
“I try to listen to what the artwork says,” Smoluk says.
Influenced and encouraged by Thorneycroft, who was his instructor in art school, Smoluk’s pieces take on a darker humour, often offering political commentary. He spends hours viewing YouTube videos that inform his view and combines his knowledge of art history and pop culture to create intricate two and three-dimensional collage works. He occasionally employs found objects that he scavenges from “anywhere and anything” – frequenting garage sales and toy stores to ensure he always has a stash of objects on hand with which to create.
“Ryan’s talent, wit and intelligence shine through in Culture Shock, says Thorneycroft. “As both his curator and mentor, I’ve encouraged him to be himself and embrace his individuality and his darker side – which is sometimes frowned upon in the autistic community. Not only is the work exceptional, it really is a glimpse into Ryan’s mind.”
Culture Shock opens on June 9 at 7pm.