David Heo

March 16, 2021
Tell us about your practice.
To be honest, I’m still learning how to articulate my practice every day. Several years ago I thought
I was really interested in the rhythms and vibrations of “nightlife.”
There was something about watching and experiencing how people shifted and acted within these arenas, like bars, clubs, and house parties. But over time, I learned that this interest was a microscopic drop of what I was actually fascinated with. Witnessing how, we, as people, operate within intentional time containers of leisure (bar hangs, dates, etc) was the narrowest view into what would become a seemingly simple-sounding but impossibly large concept: empathy.
It wasn’t “nightlife” that was holding my attention. It was the dynamics of human relationships that made me do double-takes, and what really made me rubberneck was realizing that “witnessing relatability” was the underlying concept of what inspires me. I guess my practice is quasi-self autobiographical?
Your work oscillates between the depiction of intimacy and violent animals, can you explain the connection?
Yeah, I’m sure I give people whiplash. But I swear the oscillation isn’t intentional at all. Going back to what I was saying with “relatability,” I’m only human. I have good days and I have bad days. I’m a sucker for figurative works so I guess the animals started appearing when I asked myself “What could be “figurative?” After that, I decided to challenge myself in creating my own lexicon and universe of what could be metaphorical and figurative.
But I’ve always been drawn to the idea of “intimacy.” When we hear that word, most of us default into thinking about something “spicy” or “physical”, which isn’t wrong! But intimacy is truly a TITANIC concept. It’s why there is a million-and-a-half love songs, poems, and films. Everyone on this fucking planet desires it. Whether romantically, platonically, culturally, and, as of recently, socially. This quiet yearning to connect with people is and forever will be one of the biggest driving forces of “intentionally living” for us, up until the sun burns out.
I don’t know exactly when the violent overtones started taking over my practice though. But I guarantee you, they started subconsciously clawing out in 2016. The creatures in my works manifested with sharper teeth, meaner eyes, and bathed in fire. Thinking back, they were at their highest in 2020 and it exhausted me. My headspace is impacted by my daily life. Like I said, I have good days and I have bad days.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I’ve been really really geeking at mechas and gladiators lately. 
But on a more real and unfortunate note, this constant yet unaddressed rise of Asian hate crimes – I don’t have enough energy or even the words to articulate all my rage, fear, and thoughts about that right now. 
Aside from bad things though? I just discovered this amazing essay titled “The Racial Triangulation of Asian Americans” by Claire Jean Kim and I’ve been slowly reading through that. So far, it’s sick and I know it’ll be one of the core pillars of inspo for my next solo show in September at Vertical Gallery.
What’s next for you?
I’m painting a super sick indoor mural at one of my favorite restaurants here, Perilla, sometime starting next week. I’m actually super stoked about that because they’re (secretly) planning to overhaul and re-design their vibe. 
I think it’s gonna be cool.
Meanwhile, I’ll have work in an upcoming group show at Superchief Gallery. Shortly after that, I think a new screenprint I’m working on with Seriopress should be released. the date is TBD… but I think that should be all of March though haha.

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