Almost two years ago, while roaming through downtown Vancouver, I came across a postcard for an exhibition by local artist Ryan Heshka. The painting on the postcard was of a beetle riding on the back of a bright yellow baby chicken—and I loved it! Sadly, the show was already over, but I took the postcard home and contacted Ryan through his website. It turned out that he lived just around the corner from me, so he invited me to stop by and introduced me to his weird and wonderful world of giant white apes, pin-up models, robots and dinosaurs. (See more images here.)
Over the past couple of years, Ryan has continued to expand his strange cast of characters, but has maintained his signature style, which combines the sensational scenes from pulp magazines with his own surreal imagination. His first solo U.S .show called "Neo Pulp" is now on show at Orbit Gallery in Edgewater, New Jersey.
"Obviously I'm very influenced by advertising, pulp magazines, and pin-ups," says Heshka. "When I was putting the show together, I wanted to use the classic format of old pulp magazines, but then revise it in a way that left more to the imagination."
Heshka's paintings always offer the possibility of adventure—robots battle it out with curvaceous vixens, spacemen ward off aliens and carnivorous plants threaten to devour radioactive women. The scenes in this show are both strange and strangely familiar, as if remembered from a childhood dream. Rooted in our sense of nostalgia, they also transport us to a world of distortion and imagination where things are allowed to make no sense whatsoever. Each of these paintings only gives you a small part of some extraordinary story and forces you to invent the rest—and for that I think theyâ€™re great.
Neo Pulp runs until tomorrow, 21 July 2007. Ryan Heshka's book "ABC Spookshow" is available through Amazon.