Thursday, February 18, 2010

Artist Profile: Ryan Travis Christian

Pass Outs, Ryan Travis Christian, 22.5 x 19 inches, graphite on paper

Grandmas and the Grandpas, Ryan Travis Christian, 22.5 x 30 inches, graphite on paper

ANTEXPAGNA, Ryan Travis Christian, graphite on paper

Ryan Travis Christian, a California native with a 2007 BFA from Northern Illinois University, has been an active participant in the Chicago arts scene for the last few years. Besides his fine art practice, he serves as the Chicago correspondent for the West Coast arts and culture blog FecalFace, and has independently curated for Chicago galleries such as Western Exhibitions and Ebersmoore.

Christian recently had a great show of drawings at Ebersmoore (just came down). Check out the review I wrote in Newcity about it:

The white lines of tape on the floor shout CAUTION!, DANGER!, and a low, spraypaint-riddled brick wall straddles the back corner. Ebersmoore is transformed into a construction site to house the distressed and crumbling imagery in Ryan Travis Christian’s post-apocalyptic drawings. “ANTEXPAGNA,” an imaginary word for imaginary worlds, is a celebration of the artist’s surreal personal narratives.

Following Mark Mulroney’s sexually graphic comic-art appropriations (also recently shown at Ebersmoore), Ryan Travis Christian’s drawings reference comic art in a more understated way. The use of pattern and heavy black lines ground the often amorphous, and the graphic zig-zags invoke Charlie Brown’s mournful voice in existential crisis. Examined closely, cartoon hands peek out from amorphous clouds of debris, and melting, frowning faces appear in hazy repetition. Stepping back, the seemingly random explosions in graphite coalesce, and the reason behind the rhythm of the cartoon imagery becomes clear.

Just as the frames of a comic strip imply the passage of time, the stuttering lines in “ANTEXPAGNA” slow down and illuminate a distorted, frame-by-frame sense of perception. We are thrust into the minutiae of destruction, or, perhaps—as a visitor gleefully remarked—Christian’s drawings are our celestial epiphanies immediately followed by a car tire demise. (Julia V. Hendrickson)

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