Artist Ron Hicks returns to Vail International Gallery on Saturday
If you go ...
What: Ron Hicks art exhibit.
Where: Vail International Gallery.
When: 4-6 p.m. Saturday.
More information: Call 970-476-2525.
VAIL — Ron Hicks is a bit of an artistic voyeur. In his latest pieces, he paints quiet, confidential moments: a sweet smooch between a couple more interested in each other than the caffeine in their cups in “Kisses and Coffee”; or a girl reclined on a bed with a letter in her hands while two friends seem to comfort her in “The Consolation.” But you might see the same painting and imagine something completely different. And that’s the point.
The artist strives to “give the viewer enough information to enter and explore, but not dictate what the experience or response should be,” he said.
On Saturday, the Denver-based artist will present five large-scale, new works at Vail International Gallery. This year is the seventh time the gallery has hosted an exhibit for Hicks — “a testimony to both his popularity and the quality of his painting,” said gallery co-owner Marc LeVarn.
“For this year, Ron has chosen subjects that can be termed intimate,” LeVarn said. “There is a level of intensity that reminds me of old masters that I see in museums. The compositions are original, often multi figured and focused on the psychology and interaction of the subjects.”
Hicks took the time to answer a few questions for the Vail Daily.
Vail Daily: Tell us about the new work you’re bringing to Vail for this exhibit.
Ron Hicks: The work I’m bringing to Vail this year is a part of an ongoing series of paintings I’m working on called “Intimate Encounters.” The whole concept for the theme can be very broad, encompassing imagery of a couple enjoying time together to someone enjoying time alone reflecting. As I do in many of my works, I like to explore subject matter almost voyeuristically, capturing a moment in time emotionally and spiritually.
VD: Is there a story behind one of the pieces, or an interesting backstory you could share?
RH: Most of my works start out very abstractly. My goal as I start a piece is to have as much variety visually that I can muster. As a matter of fact, if you were in the studio watching me paint, you would probably wonder what in the world I was painting! Slowly but surely, as time passes, the composition starts to reveal itself. I like leaving some of the initial abstract block-in brushwork showing and block in the finished painting. I like the idea of teetering on the edge of having — and then not having — control. Some call it painting intuitively. I firmly believe this is why I could not reproduce the same painting twice. As artists, we are constantly changing. Things move internally and externally. I’m always in a different space mentally and emotionally, so my responses are always different. When you are truly painting intuitively, it’s impossible to divorce yourself from that process and paint without some sort of connection.
VD: You tend to use muted colors in your paintings. Tell me what draws you to this moody style.
RH: I find great liberty in using the full spectrum of colors that are less chromatic. I believe it’s a sophisticated way of seeing and using color in my paintings. The choice of color and its relationship to the visual statement I’m trying to make is very crucial. For example, If I’m painting a subject with more of a somber disposition, I feel it’s not appropriate to use colors that are too bright or colorful. Another example: If I really want to say something about how red a scarf is, I find if all of the colors in the surrounding area are just as chromatic as the red scarf, it cancels out the intent for my statement. So my use of color is dictated mainly by how I relate to the painting emotionally.
VD: I read that you like to travel. Have you traveled anywhere recently? Has how traveling influenced your paintings?
RH: I will be traveling to southern France in March for a month. I have an opportunity to hang with several artists from the United States and abroad. I’ll take this opportunity to work on a body of work inspired by my adventure.
I’m not sure it’ll happen this year, but I’d love to travel to Egypt and paint the ancient pyramids. I’m fascinated by their size and mystery.