Interview with Leslie Pyo

Walking into a Room Oil on canvas 3’ x 5’

Walking into a Room
Oil on canvas
3’ x 5’

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make? Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I am in love with the pressure of color. Every day, things press up against us and in our field of vision. Another person’s logic or aura presses against ours as we interact, a previous association presses against a new one, the smell of a soft breeze presses against the moody greenish tinge of the sky. 

Let me give an example to illustrate my thinking on color relationships: Say you encounter a beautiful song. Say that Green best expresses this impression. While you are listening to that song, it starts to rain hard and you see the trees thrashing around outside. Let’s call this thrashing visual impression Blue. Now you have Green next Blue at the same moment. The fact that these colors are next to each other changes the way both of them look, and thus in that moment, though inherently the same colors, green and blue exist only in relation to each other, because they both exist in your field of perception.

Color logic, unlike language, bounces and weaves and impresses all at once, even when one block is tightly pressed against another. This is more true to the way we experience and this is the logic that I explore. The viewer may not arrive at a linear narrative, but rather at a sort of emotional echo. This emotional echo resonates an element of the human experience that we all share, which can be individualized according to each viewer’s perception.   

Man Deciding if He Believes in God Oil on canvas 5’ x 3’

Man Deciding if He Believes in God
Oil on canvas
5’ x 3’

Conference Room Oil on canvas 12” x 30”

Conference Room
Oil on canvas
12” x 30”

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
As cheesy as it sounds, probably my heart. 

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them? 
The most common struggle I've had in the past is figuring out the balance between creating in a way that will be "accessible" enough and creating in a way that doesn't worry about that and trusts art to do what art does. I decided a while ago that there isn't really a point if you worry too much about the accessibility.

I think creating with an intent to search for truth (whether a lasting or temporary one) rather than to justify a position cultivates a way of viewing the world that values sincerity over “correctness” – a “correctness” that is based on things like physical and logical facts/assumptions, alone on which our world, and certainly truth, do not stand. Relational versus logical knowledge, intuition versus analysis, spirit versus mind – these are all a part of our reality. Inaccessibility (at least by usual means) is a part of our daily experience. To probe rather than to prove opens up the fresh, bright realness of the world to both artist and audience. To make meaningful and lasting change in any arena (intellectual, societal, political) we must view “failed” probing that is vulnerable and genuine as more valuable and necessary to progress than successful position-defending that is “correct.” We are trained to focus on the things in life that will point to quickly defined conclusions rather than the things that would leave us susceptible to “failure,” sincerely trying to dig at deeper things. It's in this place of vulnerability and soft-edged intuition rather than hard-edged logic that humans meet humans instead of ideas meeting ideas. That's a big part of why I think it's important to make and see and talk about art.

Ccciam Oil and wax on panel 16" X 20"

Ccciam
Oil and wax on panel
16" X 20"

That One Thing Oil and wax on panel 4" X 2"

That One Thing
Oil and wax on panel
4" X 2"

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
Gentle vs hard edges, limits of perception, in-between moments, beauty, memory, overwhelmedness, systems of logic, language, the poetics of visual sound


See more of Leslie's work in our current exhibition, Toward Space.