An evolving Calgary Artist
Rhys Douglas Farrell is an emerging artist living and working in Calgary, Alberta. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction from the Alberta University of the Arts in the spring of 2016 with a major in painting and Drawing. Farrell is the recipient of several painting scholarships from AUArts where he was also the representative for the painting department. He was signed with the Herringer Kiss Gallery when he was still a student and Canadian Art Magazine referred to his first solo show as a “Must See”. He has since had a seven-page feature in Branded Magazine and completed a number of public art projects with the Telus Spark Science Center, Beltline Urban Mural Project, the City of Calgary and a number of private commissions. His work has been aggressively collected by private and corporate collections alike and he recently completed three international residencies with Pinea & Linea De Costa A.I.R program in Spain, Graniti Murales in Sicily and the TARP Program in Kuala Lumpur with Taksu Gallery.
For Chroma, Rhys painted a mural consisting of a combination of abstract compositions and patterns in bold colours called “Diamonds in the Sky”. We wanted to learn more about Rhys and his work, so we sat down to talk about art, inspiration, and how this young artist’s work has evolved since graduating.
Can you tell us about the process of creating your piece for Chroma?
This piece was very planned out. I designed it first on the computer and several different patterns and compositions before I began drawing it all out. The process is quite instructional — I painted one colour at a time and there are fie in total. The pattern I used is a pattern I have been working with a lot. I was inspired by Anni Albers’ work, she was a very influential textile artist and printmaker who did a lot of quilting and knitting.
Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to pursue art professionally?
For me, that moment was going to art school. I made art in high school but it was mostly for fun — something to do during class. My mom was the one who suggested I go to art school. She seemed to know that it was my passion. It took a couple of years for me to really start to enjoy it. The last two years were my favourite.
What is your daily routine when you are working on an art piece?
I wake up and have breakfast, and some expresso and water, and then I usually head out to the site or studio. I like to listen to music and I prefer a bright environment to work in but every day is different. When I do go into the studio or to a site, I like to spend 4 to 8 hours working on the project.
How has your work evolved over the years?
Between going to art school and graduating three years ago, my work has definitely gotten more complex. It’s also a lot cleaner. Not only are my lines more precise, but I put more research into my choices and how I decide on technique, pattern, and colour. I find that I am spending a lot more time on my work compared to before. I started an interior painting company when I was still in school, and I still juggle back and forth between that and my own projects, but over the last year, art has definitely been my main job. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to create new work.
Do you find that Alberta’s art scene inspires or influences your art?
The art scene here is very small but there are definitely people and artists in Alberta that inspire me or have helped me with my work. But my main influences and inspiration are bigger people from different places like Europe, the States, and South America.
If you could collaborate with one artist right now, who would that be and why?
I would bring back Julian Stanczak to do a painting with him. He was a very big but quiet op-artist who created similar work to what I do. He spent his lifetime creating art and he was also very articulate and intelligent. I’ve always looked up to his work and admired his dedication.
Where else can we find your work?
I painted a mural for BUMP on 14th street + 11th avenue. I have another piece on 15 avenue and 1st SE, and on at the park outside of the Telus Spark Science centre. My work can also be found in Spain and Sicily, where I completed two artist residencies.
All photography of Chroma by Kelly Hofer