Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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Conversation between Matthew Ryan Herget and Olivia Ramos.
Matthew Ryan Herget
HERGET: Here when you're ready
RAMOS: Hi Matthew!
So happy you are back on this conversation.
I'm happy to be back ☺
I feel like this was totally necessary since your work has changed some since the last time we spoke.
It is more intense, more precise, more rigorous... at least from my eyes
the burning stunt-man energy studies for example.
Matthew Ryan Herget
That's been a big thing for me lately.
I recently slowed down my process a lot.
It started to become this linear thing where I knew where to start and expected an ending point that was likely to be anticipated.
and I kinda hate that
So now it's more of a circular journey where I don't know when it stops or really how to get there.
I may have to sand things down or rework existing areas but that has added a new depth to my work that I'm really excited to explore.
Right - when we know where the work is going, the work is no longer teaching us anything.
Happy you had the awareness to shift into a new unknown.., and i truly see it as a result.
If it's not a new unknown for me I don't know why I'm doing it.
That's really what it's all about for me.
That path of uncertainty is very exciting.
Well for me, looking at how it is evolving is truly a pleasure... for example "no, my heart don't pump no Kool-Aid".
Matthew Ryan Herget
I love that painting ☺
It is a pleasure to look at.
Feels really good.
Tell me when you are producing this, what is the feeling?
Well as you know, I work on very different things at the same time. Based on how I'm feeling when I wake up. It may be more figurative or nature oriented or sometimes I'm cutting through all of that and trying to explore how can I create something inherently beautiful without needing explanation of why that feeling is conveyed.
When it comes to my more abstracted paintings, that's usually what I'm after.
Like a total protest to fuckery in the world.
What series of marks can I make to piece together some sort of entity that can stop me in my tracks and for reasons that I can't explain.
But with an underlying truth of beauty and timelessness.
How do you know something is beautiful?
Rhat's a question that I love.
I don't really know. I think the most beautiful things are things that weren't forced into existence.
So what I like to play with is taking experience and skills and knowledge of particular subjects (painting) and then try to figure out the dance of mark making that will piece together this personal adventure of a painting that leads to a finished place in which, in that moment it conveys some truth to me. And then I like to see if that truth or any truth is conveyed to others. These are all feelings I'm looking for.
The most profound things I learn in life are intense feelings that come to me during experiences. I find that those kind of feelings will always take precedence in importance, over simple words, in how I see the world.
It's important to know how to articulate these feelings in a way that can be shared with others, but I'm very interested in being someone who can convey these things without using words.
I don't know what that entails but that's usually what I'm thinking about in the studio.
So you don't want to take a stab at defining beauty - that's what you are getting at?.. lol
It's a pretty loaded question for sure.
Would you describe the feeling of beauty?
Well, it's a very loaded question. What intrigues me the most with feeling truth through beauty is I think it requires some sort of direct experience. You may think something is beautiful from looking at it but to feel something as beauty requires some sort of interaction through experience. Which is why paintings are very interesting to me because the most magical of paintings needs to be experienced in person in order to reap all of the essence of it. But I do think also that the most magical of paintings you can feel that essence permeate even through the smallest of social media cell phone pics.
Beauty belongs in a space that goes beyond good and evil. Like everything else truly timeless, i think it exists in a realm of visually invisible but spiritually felt on some level.
Beauty isn't an intellectual endeavor. It's a spiritual connection. Although the intellect may appear to explain that connection, I think it's only by being truly open, that you experience the essence of beauty.
I agree with everything you are saying and perhaps with the sentiment that beauty is perhaps impossible to define in a scientific way.
And things of the spirit are very gray or have too many soft edges.
It makes me think of love at first sight versus true love. Although I'm not sure it translates.
For example, when I look at a piece by Bacon, at first is it sort of grotesque, i would not call it beautiful at first sight - however, when i spend time looking i am overwhelmed by it and can be next to it forever and never get tired of looking - that to me is the beauty.
That's where science and I part ways.
hmmm the Bacon reference is for sure a good one.
I've been studying hunting for the past year and I've discovered a lot of connections of that nature.
I don't remember if we ever discussed this but, modern shamanism is something I've been practicing for a couple years now pretty much with the purpose of coming closer in contact with these feelings, letting these feelings permeate my relationship with everything around me and hopefully figuring out a way to make these things useful to others down the road.
Science isn't going to save us.
We can't intellectualize our way out of a distancing of our soul problem.
We just need to come in contact with those feelings for ourselves.
You don't build bombs, when you feel the way I do about things.
Only people who have lost these feelings do things like that.
Emotions can be a very dangerous thing.
I have been doing a lot of work about being aware of my emotions/feeling before allowing them to control my actions.
And agree if people were in touch with the emotions of love and beauty we would not be killing one another.
When i look at your work it does invoke a feeling of optimism. This I find hard to find in others.
What would you recommend in order to better get in touch with what you are feeling? For people out there.
There is definitely a difference between feeling emotions and experiencing direct truth through some inner feeling that needs very little explaining.
I have spent many years trying so hard to develop my own personal practice for coming in contact with these feelings I'm talking about.
What I've found is that they come to me effortlessly when I'm not "trying".
The less I become, the more I actually am.
And that requires lightening up the load.
Well you are trying because you've studied and developed some kind of practice.
So before when I thought meditation was this thing I had to do to put me in a specific state of mind so that I can achieve something.... is now, listen.
Meditation now is simply the art of listening.
So by listening to what is, and being a part of what is, as opposed to trying to anticipate to a created thing in our heads or responding out of emotions, we're able to be a part of the most beautiful truth filled world there is
I don't even consider it optimism to be honest.
The thing I want to carry around in my heart is something that was always there.
I just unskillful (like most dealing with the angst of growing into a person) covered up with bullshit.
We just have to make efforts to uncover these things.
To be completely honest, I've found the greatest leaps and bounds have come through a developed practice of using plant teachers like mushrooms.
Which I'm currently trying to create a visual body of work that represents these experiences.
How do you use them I mean?
Well, for thousands of years, many cultures across the world, in every single kind of climate and condition have used plant teachers to consistently unify their community with each other and the world around them. Shamans are self appointed people of healing who felt a personal calling to delve into this world and figure out how to bring back understandings and truth in order to help others find personal growth, meaning, and healing in their own lives.
There are plants that grow out of the earth, that with the proper tools and understanding of how to use them, they can completely transform your inner world and how you feel about the world around you, in an afternoon.
Like the most profound experiences of ones life, in an afternoon.
That come with information that can be used for the rest of your lives.
Ironically, we also live in a world where people who are mostly best friends with their ego, have called these plants evil.
But for thousands of years, they've been used to soften the ego, create an inner peace, and developed a vision of understanding that the world outside of us and inside of us is one and the same. This mentality is very threatening to someone who runs by the ego though.
From my experience with these plants, which i view as a short-cut - if one does not adopt a practice, the lessons disappear.
Yup mostly correct but the information acquired in these sessions can be applied to any practice.
I think it's the act of creating some sort of discipline in our lives that actually creates long term fulfillment.
I have had more epiphanies in practice than in plants.
It is the consistency, the willingness to spend the time on a daily basis.
I am a fairly extreme person though so for me, using these very intense plants correctly, has proven to be a remarkable addition to my life.
I understand - in my case i confuse things if they are not in slow progression.
The trick is not needing anything though. That goes back to listening. Chasing the day to have these plants is the wrong intention. But I find using them ritualistically in congruent to a well nurtured practice of life creates giant shifts in awareness.
And we could use some giant shifts in awareness.
Too violent a shift will not work.
There are so many moving parts.
And everything has to catch up and move together.
I'm fascinated with the idea that everything is a teacher and student at the same time and that the earth is the same way. Nothing is brought me closer or opened me up in ways that by using supplemented (not dietary) plants has and I think there's a reason for that. We like to get very caught up in thinking that we don't need anything to achieve these understandings and truths through experience but I think sometimes it helps a lot. I think there's a reason they've been used how they have for so long.
Oh yeah, it's very complex.
Which is why, ultimately, I can only be in charge of my own path.
But my path is essentially to create a world, even if it's just an inner world that i want to be a part of.
I think a lot can be learned from our relationship with the ground beneath our feet. And I think it's a big indicator that the most dominating cultures in the world right now are often terrified of using such plants and bastardize people who are interested in them.
And if I'm to live this one life to the fullest, I have to be open with things that have worked for me.
I would honestly not recommend the plants to anyone.
But completely respect the value you find in them.
I would never tell someone to just give it a go. But that's not what I'm saying.
It was a personal feeling that brought me to them, and by studying them, and using them correctly, they have changed my world. I'm just advocating for a more feeling driven world to be a part of.
As opposed to simply reacting on outside stimuli with our chimp like emotions and ego.
Like we said, it's super complex.
Some people can be vegans. Some people need meat to function properly. This is why figureheads are silly because the idea is often that they know what's best for me. When in reality, only by listening to ourselves, can we find out what's best.