Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ryan Schneider

Visiting Ryan's studio and seeing his mesmerizing paintings before they were installed in his solo show at Two Rams was incredibly fun!! Ryan's show is up right now through the 28th of this month!

Ryan's steamy, tropical paintings are filled with rich symbols and archetypes that align them with Jungian psychology. The mask represented the persona for Jung, and the word "persona," literally translates to "mask" in Latin. According to Jung, in his essay, Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, "The mirror does not flatter, it faithfully shows whatever looks into it; namely, the face we never show to the world because we cover it with the persona, the mask of the actor." Paul Klee's etching, Comedian, 1903, exemplifies this Jungian belief. Klee peels off the jovial mask of the comedian only to reveal a solemn, brooding individual underneath. Jung believed that we wear different masks depending on who we are with. He thought that we put on these masks in order to protect ourselves from the scrutiny and criticism of others. People's public selves are often unlike their private selves, an idea that Gillian Wearing also delves into in her videos of masked individuals confessing to things that they otherwise would not want to admit to.
Ryan's powerful paintings emanate a sense of wistful longing. The hauntingly enigmatic beauty of Ryan's paintings reminds me of Coleridge's Kubla Khan. This painting especially reverberates with the Abyssinian maid's intoxicating song, Coleridge's sense of deep darkness, and an idea of paradise gone awry.

Ryan follows the surreal logic of dreams, and produces cryptic paintings, using archetypical symbols. The evil eye is one of the most prevalent and universal symbols, and is usually used as a protective talisman that wards off wicked spirits. In Turkey, the superstition is that the evil eye absorbs the envy and negative energy of others. For the Turks, even compliments can be laced with hidden resentment. Ryan fuses the symbol of the evil eye, with another symbol of protection, the crab. Simultaneously seductive and repellent, the figure evokes a mysterious sense of perplexity.
Monkeys are especially fascinating to us, because they remind us so much of ourselves. The monkey was a life long motif for Picasso, who began depicting them very early on in his work. For Picasso, who was preoccupied with accessing the primal and raw within us, the monkey was a perfect subject. Although we share so much in common with our fellow primates, monkeys are more direct with their drives and emotions; they don't bother wearing masks and disguises.

Ryan creates a dramatic sense of mood by staging his paintings at night. This beguiling and synesthetic painting resounds with the songs of the birds that it depicts.

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