Acrylic, aerosol, house paint, marker
30" x 44"
2016 - 2017
Original painting is available. Please contact for sale inquires.
The piece was designed to be flipped or hung either way, depending on the mood of the viewer or of the artist. During the process, I would switch the piece around to work on either side, as a compliment to whatever I was feeling in that moment. The piece is themed around the concept of duality, a persistent underlying entanglement of synchronicity which affects all phenomena in our immediate universe, whether we are aware of it or not. Despite how disproportionate things may seem at times, there is always a delicate balance of good and evil, positive and negative, black and white, yin and yang, ebb and flow that is present amongst all matter.
I began this piece at a very turbulent time in my life, where I was seeking self introspection and analysis, through creative expression. For the better part of a decade, I've experienced a consistent yet subtle form of the bi-polar spectrum, most notably characterized by a manic episode that put me in a psychiatric ward at the age of 19. Basically, my mood fluctuates from two extremes, either being deeply depressed, emotional, irrationally bleak, hopeless and reclusive. On the other end of the spectrum, I am manic, excitable, idealistic, super energetic, flooded with ideas, non-stop productive and extroverted. The two moods are very much interconnected. If I allow mania to persist, eventually I burn out, my energy crashes, my drained neurochemistry plummets me into despair and emptiness. If I dwell in sadness for too long, I am inclined to make up for lost time, to push forward harder than before, to strive toward a renewed sense of happiness. Sometimes I shoot too far, my mania takes hold, and the cycle continues.
While creating Split Personalities, I pondered about the interconnectedness of nature, our brains, our environment, our emotions, and our behaviors or choices that influence our overall biochemistry. The red, manic, dilated face, though smiling, has a crazy look in his eyes, as he swallows a mysterious green tablet. The bright red is for the inflammation response in the body that results from high stress/high adrenaline mind states, which can also lead to anger. The festival party in his head, symbolizes the racing, loud thoughts bouncing around in his mind. This version acts upon impulse, he chases the fun and excitement in life, and wants to soak up every last drop of experience to be had. To him, the highs will never end.
The blue, depressed, weary face reflects the darker side of the coin, the one that we would all rather ignore and forget about. The blue reflects the coldness of being alone, of having no hope of repressing your inner feelings. The lurking city spews smoke and pollution, a decaying metropolis, where everyone is separated and disconnected in concrete boxes. A train hurtles toward a broken off track, ready to plummet to its doom. A leaky pipe floods toxins into the ocean, dripping into the characters psyche and polluting his mind. A cigarette burns away the few cares that are left, a quick fix that only further clouds his world. A lone shadowy figure, paddles a small wooden boat, turning his back on this urban prison as he floats into the unknown. The character glances off into the distance, wondering if the lows will ever disappear, though doubtful.
The truth is, neither version of this character is right or wrong, one would not exist without the other. They can only function as polar opposites, whereas the true balance is the middle path: to recognize these states as separate from the Self, temporary in nature, as to not become attached or invested in either one of them, or allowing them to define your real personality. The goal is to increase self awareness, to realize when one state is taking control before it happens, and to return to center, through various tools, practices and disciplines.
Over the years I've explored many remedies and solutions to this condition, most of them offering nothing more than temporary relief of symptoms. I found early on that pharmaceutical medications altered my brain in ways I really didn't enjoy, I felt numbed and spaced out. Eventually I gave up despite what doctors told me, and have self medicated with cannabis ever since, treating depession, anxiety, and general mood swings. Its not a cure all by any means but helps keep my emotions regulated and less rapid fluctuation. Another extremely beneficial ally has been microdosing of psilocbyin, which I have found to provide enormous relief in lowering anxiety, improving mood, increasing focus, energy and sociability, while allowing space for peace of mind and calm introspection. I found microdosing to also have amazing creative advantages, which I utilized several times during the creation of this piece. Once again, there is no magic button to cure this ailment. But when you combine these plant medicines with intention, meditation, yoga/exercise, a clean healthy diet, and writing or creative expression, the results are astounding.
Creating Split Personalities greatly helped me overcome many issues that were holding me back from pursing Art as my true purpose and calling in life, making sense of who I am and why I'm here. The process provided me with enormous benefits, simply by examining my mental states, contemplating them, and expressing them onto canvas, as a therapeutic practice. Art has the power to heal, either through observance or engagement, it allows us a platform in which to express very challenging, abstract feelings or ideas, and to purge them from our system, into something tangible. This can be done by anyone, at any skill level, with any type of creative outlet or medium in which you choose. For me, mixed media painting gives me the happiest feeling, so that's what I choose to do most. The hardest part is overcoming fear, facing one's true Self, and asking, what is it that I'm really trying to say here?
One Love - Ryan