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INTERVIEW: Devon Pryce

Toronto based artist Devon Pryce's paintings reflect the normal, day to day moments we tend to pay little attention to. In this interview, Pryce shares with us his routine and why these mundane scenes hold so much potential.

How do you view the relationship between digital media such as photography and video with the traditional medium of painting?

I often try to cross lines between the two mediums. For me, they are just two 

modes of storytelling. Depending on the story being told, sometimes the canvas is 

more effective than the screen and vice versa. I think it's important to be aware of the 

constraints of traditional painting as a medium. Painting is very useful for communicating a certain emotion or seeking a specific response, all while having that expression exist as a tangible object. When painting, I tend to borrow some visual cues from cinema. Digital media’s strength is its widespread accessibility and easy distribution. I try to operate with the understanding that a great deal of art is being experienced online or digitally. (especially now) 

Can you speak to the mundane and surreal elements within your work? 

I like to use imagery that draws from real life experiences, but also relies heavily on memory to create. This way the subject matter is based in reality but still appears discernibly fabricated. 

I believe it's important to focus on the so-called “mundane” because the word describes moments that are overly repetitive or dull. These seemingly dormant times often account for a great deal of daily life and really hold a lot of potential. As such, my goal is to capture these moments as opportunities for potential narrative to take place. Although I might create images with a specific narrative in mind, I know that how the work will be perceived depends on the eye of each individual viewer. Knowing this, my aim is for my paintings to carry with them an atmosphere of introspection and surreality. 

Within your paintings you use a consistent palette and loose mark-making giving them a dreamlike presence. How do you decide when a piece is complete?

Like anything creative, it's a feeling. The painting is complete when there's nothing else you can do to make it as close to your original idea as possible. Stylistic choices like colour palette and mark-making are often subconscious decisions made based on memory or intuition. 

Can you describe your studio routine? 

Nowadays I go in and just experiment. There are usually a lot of rough ideas that need to fail before I zero in on a singular idea worth pursuing. When I find an area of focus, I set aside a day where I can go in and work solely on that one idea. My favourite method of making paintings is starting the day with my blank canvas and ending the day with the finished product. Completing a painting this way allows for one continuous stream of consciousness to dictate the whole process. I rarely go back and edit or change them once they’re complete. 

What book, movie or video have you read/seen recently that has influenced your work?

In my own work, I’m interested in looking at the actions people take in response to the pressure of their surroundings. I recently watched the movie La Haine, a movie about coping with fear and anxiety during a 24 hour period of rising tension. The film depicts these themes in a really captivating way.

To see more of Devon's work, check out his website and follow him on Instagram.


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