A Wildly Expressive State of Mind: Reilly Stasienko

Attempts to Appear Human . Reilly Stasienko, 2020

Reilly Stasienko knew that she wanted to create something from a young age, and the 20-year-old American painter and illustrator has said that her art is her prana, her life force. Stasienko is incredibly prolific, she usually works on multiple pieces at the same time, and posts artwork on Instagram regularly. Additionally, she does design and brand work and plans on experimenting with animation and music in the future. All of this might sound like a lot, but for her, passion and anxiety are simply two different sides of the same coin. Since she first rose to prominence in high school, her work has toed the line between expressionism and surrealism and is inspired by visionary artists Alex and Allyson Grey, Gustav Klimt’s student Egon Schiele, Pablo Picasso, and abstract figure artists.

breathing into me . Reilly Stasienko, 2020

Like expressionist and neo-expressionist art, her work seeks out the subjective over the objective and makes use of distortion, exaggeration, and vivid colour harmonies. Like surrealist art, it seamlessly blends the concept of reality with that of the fantastic. Her favourite medium is oil but she also uses ballpoint pens, acrylic, pastel, chalk, and digital tools like Procreate. Stasienko may be young, but she is fast accumulating a vast body of highly contemplative, vivid, and emotional work.

animal laughter, Reilly Stasienko, 2020

Having been a curious child with an interest in details and influenced by her father’s own interest in art, Stasienko’s need to create something soon bore fruit and has rapidly blossomed in various directions since. Her creations frequently have spirituality interwoven into them, and self-exploration is an important end. The more she creates, the closer she gets to a meditative state of mind, Stasienko has said, “I feel like I’m getting to know my higher/ divine self through art, especially painting. Intimacy grows the more my creative drive grows. Kundalini.” Topics Stasienko ponders over in her paintings include human consciousness, and are metaphysical and existential in nature. These are then held up to the elements of humanity and reality, as notably seen in her self-portraits. In a 2019 self-portrait, Stasienko sits on a couch next to her cat, with some coffee on the floor. There’s no readable expression on her abstract face, but the simple colour palette of black, and dark shades of red and green suggest melancholy and the same kind of reflection that characterises her other work. It can be said that this transforms Stasienko the person into an artwork, but according to her, self-portraits are different because they go further and transcend the barrier between the art and the artist.