Studio Visit: Ian Healy

Ian Healy is an artist living and working in the UK.  His work can be seen in PLEAT's April 2017 exhibition as well as

Please describe your work.
The work circumnavigates the notion of being human. I get excited about representing the human figure, expressing humour and absurdness.

I like to describe the foolishness and the idiosyncrasies of life or the acts performed. Painting allows for total invention, like the impossible body twist, or the cartoon eyes on a face. Underlying narratives inform the works; I want to draw someone into a drama or comedy, into a scenario, maybe fear of being seen, fear of how to look and even fear of the unknown.

I work from random imagery, anything that catches my eye. These either get filed away or used immediately. The unstable technique of lines and blocks of paint tie into the uncertain notions I talked about above. The expressive force of the medium and act seems the best way to me to express the thoughts and notions I have, unlike anything else I have known. I guess I want to paint parodies and parables.

What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices? 
The every day informs the work. The human form is a mainstay for any choices I make on paper, panel or canvas, its the prime motivator. Of course, I look at contemporary painting, which is very exciting at the moment and also at the history of painting. Internally I want to bring a heightened sense of tension and mischief and so try to reproduce this onto a 2D surface. 

Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
From Piero Della Francesco to Goya to Munch to Alice Neel and many others in-between have an influence on my work. My parents didn't have any art books in the house when I was a young boy, but they did have a large bible, which had many reproduced paintings - Rubens, Michelangelo, Leonardo and many more. I think of that bible, not in a religious way but in an 'artistic' sense. it was like my first artbook, which I looked at over and over, fascinated by the images of damnation and hellfire.  I followed this up with a huge Marvel comic collection, excited my the incredible illustrations and the crazy out of this world narratives. They were all quests to escape I guess..which continues to this day.

How has digital technology affected your artistic practice?
Social media has had a profound effect on artistic practice. Instagram in particular allows someone to effectively have an ongoing exhibition of their work. It has also enabled a community of like-minded people to engage with each other’s work. It has also helped me to reach galleries, which may have been a bit more tricky in other circumstances.