Mark Ryden Nacimiento
20 Enero 1963 (51 años) Medford, Oregon
Art Center College of Design
Trabajos conocidos The Creatrix Snow White The Birth The Parlor
Artista americano nombrado padre del Surrealismo Pop (también conocido por el término Lowbrow) por la revista americana Interview. Las obras de este artista se caracterizan por la mezcla del pop y el surrealismo con los grandes maestros de la pintura. Sus pinturas más famosas, las niñas y muñecas de porcelana, son fruto de la aleación entre inocencia y perversión que logra concebir un universo enigmático pero a la vez muy atrayente para el espectador. Estos paisajes creados por el pintor nos podrían fácilmente recordar al conocido cuento de Alicia en el país de las Maravillas, otra obra en la que la combinación de la pureza de la protagonista junto con el imaginario mundo subterráneo crean un fascinante universo.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
The Meat Show
1998 Mendenhall Gallery Pasadena, California
Bunnies and Bees
2001 Earl McGrath Gallery Nueva York, Nueva York 2002 Grand Central Art Center Santa Ana, California
2003 Earl McGrath Gallery Los Angeles, California
2004 Frye Art Museum Seattle, Washington
2005 Pasadena Museum of California Art Pasadena, California
__________ Tree Show
2007 Michael Kohn Gallery Los Angeles, California
The Snow Yak Show
2009 Tomio Koyama Gallery Japón
__________ The Gay 90’s
2010 Paul Kasmin Gallery Nueva York
The Gay 90’s West
2014 Michael Kohn Gallery Los Angeles
The Pumpkin President 1998, Oil on canvas Painting size: 40” x 60”
A Dog Named Jesus 1997, Oil on panel Painting size: 11” x 17”
The Meat Show 1998
__________ Mendenhall Gallery Pasadena, California
Well, I have to admit I don’t really paint my paintings; a Magic Monkey does. He comes to my studio late at night, when it’s very quiet. Mysterious things happen late at night when most people are asleep. I help the magic monkey, but he does most of the work. My big job is to get him to show up. I’ve been learning just what that takes. He is very particular. The right frame of mind is important; I have to switch my brain from linear, logical thinking to creative, free feeling. If I start to think too much, then it’s time for a nap or perhaps build a fort out of blankets with my son. Things have to flow from a place that is more subconscious and uninhibited. When you believe and have faith things will flow. You can really feel it. It’s like magic. The Monkey comes tapping at the door, we get the paint and brushes out of the treasure chest and we have a great time making art. When I was a child in school my teachers would wonder why my drawings of dogs would have their intestines showing or why my self portraits had a third eye. They disapproved, but I got a lot of support from my family and I learned to really enjoy confusing my teachers and even scaring them. Children have no inhibitions when making their art. I’ve never seen my 4 year old son have a creative block; and his art is much more interesting than most adult’s art. Children are miraculous. I believe to get ideas you have to nourish the spirit. I stuff myself full of the things I like: pictures of bugs, paintings by Bouguereau and David, books about
Pheneous T. Barnum, films by Ray Harryhausen, old photographs of strange people, children’s books about space and science, medical illustrations, music by Frank Sinatra and Debussy, magazines, T.V., Jung and Freud, Ren and Stimpy, Joseph Campbell and Nostradamus, Ken and Barbie, Alchemy, Freemasonary, Buddhism. At night my head is so full of ideas I can’t sleep. I mix it all together and create my own doctrine of life and the universe. To me, certain things seem to fit together. There are certain parallels and clues all over the place. There may be a little part of Alice in Wonderland that fits in. Charles Darwin, and Colonel Sanders provide pieces. To me the world is full of awe and wonder. This is what I put in my paintings. It seems to me that everything I am going to paint I have already painted. Something will “click” and an entire image will flash in my head. I then just have to remember what all the specific details of the image are supposed to be. I will often get stuck on a minor detail like the pattern on a curtain or the species of a background animal. It is very clear when I have the correct answer and resolve all the pieces of a work successfully. I just come as close as possible to what is supposed to be there. I believe if you follow your heart and do what you love, success will follow. If you enchant yourself, others will be too. -Mark Ryden - October, 1998.
The Birth of Venus 1998, Oil on panel Painting size: 9” x 20”
The Angel of Meat 1998, Oil on panel Painting size: 38” x 33”
Princess Sputnik 1998, Oil on canvas Painting size: 32” x 22”
Snow White 1997, Oil on canvas Painting size: 48” x 72”
Inside Sue 1997, Oil on panel Painting size: 15” x 11”
The Ox Suckling Romulus and Remus 1997, Oil on panel Painting size: 20” x 28”
The Ecstasy of Cecelia 1997, Oil on canvas Painting size: 26” x 31”
Jessica’s Hope 2001, Oil on canvas Painting size: 12” x 14”
Bunnies and Bees 2001
__________ Earl McGrath Gallery Nueva York
I’ve been asked over and over why I paint meat. I suppose I have to admit one of the reasons I like to paint meat is because people do wonder about it so much. There are actually many reasons. We are creatures of pure energy and “Meat” is the element that keeps us here. I think about how “Meat” was once part of a beautiful living creature that has then become an inanimate “substance” that we treat with little regard or awareness of what it once was. It was once alive. Recently the Austrian artist Flatz made the news when he dropped a dead cow from a helicopter in Berlin. I don’t care much for this kind of “shock” art but there was a very interesting part of the story. An animal loving teenager attempted to legally stop the performance. The court rejected the complaint because the cow had the legal status of food. That fascinates me. At what exact point does the animal cross the line and become meat? From the Bible, Matthew 26:26 “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” I have found this Bible verse the source of much curiosity. It is a bizarre ritual Catholics partake in each Sunday as they eat the body of Christ in communion. The literal interpretation of this can be the source of endless visuals from the humorous to the horrific.
There is an obvious horror connected with the meat industry: the blood, the gore, the inhumane butchery. So many of us indirectly participate in this with our ravenous consumption of meat. Sue Coe has explored that arena exquisitely in her work and writings. In my own art I am not personally making a statement or judgment about the meat consumption in our culture. I feel more like I am just observing it. Just like T-rex, I myself am a passionate meat-eater. I feel that the consumption of animal flesh is a natural primal instinct, just like sex and making paintings. But there is that paradox of knowing how that scrumptious porterhouse made it to my dinner plate. We have lost any kind of reverence for this. It would be interesting if people would have to kill an animal themselves before they earned the right to eat it. Beyond the conceptual impact, meat simply has a very strong visual quality. The wonderful variety of textures and patterns in the marbling of the meat is sumptuous. Subtle pinks gently swirl around with rich vermillions and fatty yellow ochres. These visual qualities alone are seductive enough to make meat the subject of a work of art. Meat is glorious to paint. It is so easy to transcend the representational to the abstract. Meat has been a subject for painters from Rembrandt to Van Gogh. -Mark Ryden - October, 2001.
Puella Animo Aureo 2001, Oil on canvas Painting size: 18” x 36”
YHWH 2000, Oil on canvas Painting size: 10” x 14”
Little Blue Boy 2001, Oil on canvas Painting size: 20” x 20”
The Magic Circus 2001, Oil on canvas Painting size: 40” x 60”
Sophia’s Mercurial Waters 2001, Oil on canvas Painting size: 21” x 25”
The Ringmaster 2001, Oil on canvas Painting size: 20” x 28”
The Last Rabbit 2000, Oil on canvas Painting size: 19” x 23”
Insalata Mista - Blood 2003
__________ Mondo Bizarro Gallery Bolonia, Italia
Fountain 2003, Oil on panel Painting size: 12â€? x 6.25â€?
Manus Christi 2003, Oil on panel Painting size: 3.5â€? x 2.25â€?
The Cloven Bunny 2003, Oil on panel Painting size: 4.25â€? x 3.5â€?
Lincoln’s Head 2003, Oil on panel Painting size: 4.5” x 6.5”
Night Visit 2003, Oil on panel Painting size: 5” x 7”
The Baptism of Jajo 2003, Oil on panel Painting size: 3.75” x 3.75”
Wound 2003, Oil on panel Painting size: 6” x 6”
Santa Worm 2000, Oil on panel Painting size: 14” x 10”
The Butcher Bunny 2000, Oil on panel Painting size: 16” x 16”
__________ Frye Museum Seattle & Pasadena Museum of California Art Pasadena, California
IN 1706 THE DUTCH MERCHANT Levin Vincent published a book titled Wondertoonel der Nature that features etched images of his collection, which included preserved and taxidermied animals, skeletons, mysterious fossils, fantastic corals, and beautiful seashells. Beginning in the 1500s, Europeans began assembling individual collections of natural and man-made objects and filling their “cabinets of curiosities” with specimens that gave them a sense of wonder about the world and satisfied their fascination with oddities. Wonder chambers, Wunderkammen, like those of Levin Vincent evolved over the centuries into modern museums. When I walk around the halls of a museum, I have experiences like those of learning about the world I had in childhood. It is an inspirational feeling. Beyond the great art museums of the world, some of my favorites include medical museums and museums of natural history. The Museo la Specola in Florence, Italy, with its rooms full of eighteenth-century wax anatomical figures, is breathtaking. The surreal atmosphere of the mysterious old rooms is exhilarating to me. There is a medical museum in Thailand containing some of the strangest displays I have ever seen. (Things I find to be “strange” I also often find to be elevating.) I frequently go to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, where a death trap for prehistoric mammals has become a treasure trove of fossils. I could spend days walking around New York’s natural history museum with its Hall of Biodiversity, where on a single wall you can see the range of life forms on earth from diatoms to monkeys. I stand there in humble awe of the variety of strange creatures that
coexist on this planet. Museums are places any person can go to quietly contemplate and be filled with a sense of wonder. When I am in these places, I feel like making paintings. In the same spirit as those earlier collectors filling their cabinets of curiosities, I feel compelled to collect quite a variety of things. I draw artistic inspiration from the treasures I find at the flea market. I like old toys, books, photographs, anatomical models, stuffed animals, skeletons, religious statues, and vintage paper ephemera. It is interesting how, from the endless sea of stuff out there, certain things jump out. They evoke a feeling of mystery in me and I am powerfully driven toward them. It is an obsession. I collect, arrange, and display them. Pieces from my collection end up synthesized or juxtaposed in my paintings. This visual debris from contemporary pop culture contains the specific archetypes that formed my consciousness while living in this particular period in history. I often find archetypes in old children’s books and toys, so these things make up a large part of my collection. I am attracted to things that evoke memories from childhood. It is only in childhood that contemporary society truly allows for imagination. Children can see a world ensouled, where bunnies weep and bees have secrets, where “inanimate” objects are alive. Many people think that childhood’s world of imagination is silly, unworthy of serious consideration, something to be outgrown. Modern thinking demands that an imaginative connection to nature needs to be over-
The Meat Train 2000, Oil on canvas Painting size: 23” x 17”
come by “mature” ways of thinking about the world. Human beings used to connect to life through mystery and mythology. Now this kind of thinking is regarded as primitive or naive. Without it, we cut ourselves off from the life force, the world soul, and we are empty and starving. I believe in letting imagination thrive in my art. I am not afraid of nostalgia or sentiment. I value taking the time to make a painting “beautiful.” I want to breath life into my paintings. I would like to thank my love Marion, my wonderful kids Jasper and Rosie, and my supportive family: Steven, KRK, Janine, Lori, and my Dad. Gratitude is also due to Alyson Ryan, Kevin Sparks, Alix Sloan, Debra Byrne, Wesley Jessup, Midge Bowman, Ted Mendenhall, Earl McGrath, Sean Riley, Jolene Myers, Brian Wakil, and Long Gone John. I would also like to give special thanks to all the collectors who generously loaned their paintings to the museums for this exhibition. -Mark Ryden - October, 2004.
Saint Barbie 1994, Oil on panel
The Creatrix 2005, Oil on canvas Painting size: 90” x 60”
Bjork 1998, Oil on panel Painting size: 12” x 16”
California Brown Bear 2006, Oil on canvas Painting size: 20” x 16”
Tree Show 2007
__________ Michael Kohn Gallery Los Angeles
Trees work in mysterious ways. A branch from a tree is a miniature replica of the whole tree. It is not identical but similar in nature to the whole. This fractal structure may actually describe the very fabric of reality, meaning the invisible structure behind all existence has the shape of a tree. In this way, the tree goes beyond being a mere symbol of the universe and is actually an echo of how reality is shaped. I see this pattern of the tree everywhere. One of my favorite displays at the recent popular “Body Worlds” exhibition was a hauntingly beautiful tree of plastic blood. It was an actual human circulatory system made solid with the process called plastination. Everything else was stripped away, leaving only an intricate array of branching veins. The tree pattern is inherent in any ontological system. The many species of the animal kingdom are best organized and charted as the branches of a tree. Of course, everyone is familiar with their own family tree. Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree because he became one with the cosmic tree. Throughout history, and in so many different cultures, trees have been connected with spiritual growth. The tree, with its roots burrowing deep down into the earth and its branches reaching high up into the sky, can be seen to connect heaven with the earth. The Kabbalist Tree of Life is a guide to how an individual can connect to the divine source. The Maya call their Tree of Life Yaxche. It unites the three realms of the underworld, earth and heavens. In Norse mythology, Yggdrasill is the World Tree, a great ash tree located at the center of the universe and joining the nine worlds of Norse cosmology.
Ancient peoples felt an intimate connection to trees. They saw how their lives were interwoven with the natural world around them and so they instinctively respected and cared for nature. When they cut down a tree, they would say a prayer to the indwelling spirit. One of the very first deities humans ever depicted was a forest spirit. There are cave paintings of a figure with the shape of a man and the horns of a stag believed to represent this divinity. In the ancient Celtic world, this forest spirit was named Cernunnos. He was a very important god to the people and his representations were widespread. Cernunnos was guardian of the forest, and the trees were guardians of both life and death. Trees were so significant in ancient people’s lives that the beginning of all religious and social life took place under trees in sacred groves. When the Christians began systematically destroying the sacred groves, a monumental shift in our thinking began. We went from believing we are a part of nature to seeing nature as something to conquer and control, something we are above. The mysterious spirits and essence of trees, plants and animals have become more and more obscure to us. While in the midst of working on my California Brown Bear painting, I was with my 8-year-old daughter Rosie at the American Rag store here in Los Angeles where they happen to have a 9-foot-tall, taxidermied bear. The bear is majestically standing on his hind legs with an impressive expression. While looking at this striking sight, Rosie was taken aback. She said until that moment she had never realized a bear could be scary. She has been so immersed in a culture whose concept of “Bear-ness” is a Disneyfied, computer-animated cartoon that she hardly knew what a bear truly was.
Logging Truck 2006, Oil on canvas Painting size: 12” x 26”
Today our relationship with nature is more like that of a tourist. We load up the kids in the family car and look out the window at trees like they are animals in a zoo. (Of course, no family trip is complete without bringing home a souvenir. I wanted to make a souvenir of The Tree Show just like the pennants I collected in my childhood. I had to make it the way I remembered them with real felt and ink you could feel.) I grew up in South Lake Tahoe where nature truly functions as a tourist attraction. As I worked on my ideas and sketches for my paintings, I found myself coming back to the trees I am most familiar with, the conifers of California. If you look for trees that rank as the oldest, the tallest or the largest, you can find each one of these record holders right here in California. General Sherman, a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park, is the largest by volume. Methuselah, a bristlecone pine in the White Mountains, is the oldest at 4,700 years. Hyperion, a coastal redwood in the Redwood National
Park, is the tallest at 379 feet. While any humble tree can inspire contemplation into the mysteries of life, when a tree grows to an extreme of size or age, it is difficult not to be filled with philosophical introspection in its presence. When you stand before these ancient trees, you can almost feel their mystical aura. They appear immortal. It is difficult to really comprehend the thousands of years they take to slowly grow, one thin ring at a time. It is a marvel that one individual tree can overlap so much human history. It is perplexing to me how some can look at these extraordinary trees and see evidence of a spiritual power while others only see a commodity. The history of the California redwoods poignantly illustrates the contrast between these different ways of relating to nature. Hyperion, the record-breaking tallest tree, was only recently discovered in 2006. What was remarkable about this tree was that it survived at all.
In the late 1970s, logging companies were working around the clock, using lights to work at night. They were trying to clear-cut as much virgin forest as possible before a deadline. Legislation was eminent to expand the Redwood National Park and protect the last tiny remaining scraps of virgin forest in this area. They came within a few dozen yards of cutting down the tallest living thing on earth. Amazing as it seems, with so little virgin forest left, logging still remains a constant threat to the small number of remaining ancient trees. I believe that if there is indeed a secret to the universe and a meaning to life, I am sure it would be found inside of a tree. William Blake said, “The tree that moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way … some scarce see nature at all, but to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” -Mark Ryden - March, 2007.
The Tree of Life 2006, Oil on canvas Painting size: 66” x 42”
Yoshi 2007, Oil on canvas Painting size: 36” x 48”
Fetal Trapping in Northern California 2006, Oil on panel Painting size: 9.25â€? x 12.25â€?
Girl Eaten by Tree 2006, Oil on canvas Painting size: 12.75” x 19.75”
Allegory of the Four Elements 2006, Oil on canvas Painting size: 28” x 36”
Fur Girl 2008, Oil on canvas Painting size: 30” x 20”
The Snow Yak Show 2009
__________ Tomio Koyama Gallery Japón
If Ryden’s previous exhibition “Blood” seemed like an inward scream, “The Tree Show” an environmental exaltation, then “The Snow Yak Show” reveals itself like a meditative exhalation. This latest body of work features an array of new scenes set in a mystical snow encrusted land populated by ghostly pale moon children and highly uncanny yet softly benevolent creatures. In these seven paintings (accompanied by a handful of drawings and sketches), the tone is less carnivalesque and more serene than previous works. The color palette is based on whites, though hardly bleached out, richly tinged with tones of grays, blues and pinks. Generally, the compositions are more iconic, and suggestive of solitude, peacefulness and introspection. Backgrounds, normally painted in representational detail, are articulated fields of monochrome. Some of the works include previously unseen abstract painting effects (like the melted snowflake background in Abominable). The drawings are of girls, and of the amorphous snow yaks that are rendered as unlikely creatures not found in the real world - more of a spiritual companion loosely resembling a real animal. These drawings were exhibited in a separate room and indeed seem to contain a whole expression and theme unto themselves, more connected to each other than the paintings. In the drawings, girls lovingly coddle baby yaks and adult yaks take maternal turns watching over human babies, all with no real hint of the morbid humor Ryden’s work can often generate. An un-ironic, sincere gentleness pervades each scene, which in these days is almost as shocking as violence.
The theme of snow infuses all of the paintings. When asked if the inspiration had anything to do with the show’s Japanese location (where many folktales and myths occur in the snow) Ryden says simply that he was already inspired to go the minimalist and white route but maybe thought the link was a welcome association for people anyhow. This series, which took about a year to complete, also maintains a sparseness in its framing. Rather than the over-the-top, ornate frames Ryden usually has custom carved as an extension of each painting, this show was framed in simple, unobtrusive white frames, emphasizing their sparsity but also allowing the viewer to focus more truly on the painting. Without a doubt, Mark Ryden is one of the biggest names in contemporary art right now. His works have attracted hordes of admirers, from celebrities to museum board members to Goth high school kids. But that is not the really interesting thing about the artist. For him, the mystery is more important than the message. In fact, mystery often is the message. When questioned about the symbolism and meaning in his paintings, which are riddled with images taken from alchemical texts, foreign languages and numerology, Ryden remains willfully obscure. He prefers the narrative to remain cryptic, and he wants to evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity within the viewer rather than producing work that can be quickly deciphered. And indeed, while his technical craftsmanship is beyond question, what causes people to react so viscerally to Ryden’s work is his idiosyncratic imagery and the way he uses it. Through his looking glass lens
Heaven 2008, Oil on canvas Painting size: 16” x 20”
the artist is able to imbue modern day pop artifacts and sci-fi marvels with the same sense of wonderment any 19th century fireside fairytale possesses. Some critics dismiss Ryden’s work as mere pop culture kitsch just painted all fancy, a visual snake oil act. However, beyond the use of modern day cultural flotsam and jetsam (which you either get or you don’t, and/or like or don’t) a complex system of archetypal and mythical imagery, as well as references to the arcane, emerges. In fact, to “understand” a Ryden painting you’d do better to read Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, a science textbook, or a book by Joseph Campbell before any tome on the history of art theory. Ryden himself is very Zen-like in his acceptance of other people’s interpretations of his
work. He says he finds it gratifying that people can see different things in the paintings. He never seems to confirm or deny any particular interpretation because what matters most is the feeling his work evokes rather than an intellectual understanding. Incidentally, Ryden himself says the show was inspired by a dream: I had an intense dream of the long creature I painted in Long Yak. In the dream, I was in the belly of one yak, while looking out an opening at the long yak. This dream was quite vivid. Dreams of ice can come from deep in the psyche. Clean white snow seems to come from the realm of the spirit. In Long Yak, two twin-like girls ride the back of a strange toy-faced beast through a snow-covered land. Twins connote a range of symbolic mea-
nings, while their pose on the back of this creature is reminiscent of images of Hindu deities (such as Durga, who is occasionally considered a virgin/ pure goddess figure). Those deities are depicted as riding on animals, such as tigers or lions, denoting a conquering of “animalistic” desires or the mastery of the ego and willpower. Clearly, Ryden’s whole raison d’etre of painting is about mystery and transcendence. He speaks freely about the Muse (in his case he flippantly refers to it as a magic monkey that squats on his shoulder in the wee hours). In “The Snow Yak Show,” the muse takes the shape of a young white haired girl, tellingly named “Sophia.” Sophia is also the name of a universal cosmic principle, a goddess of wisdom or God’s consort depending on which version you like. She appears as a “pure virgin” accor-
Snow Yak 2008, Oil on canvas Painting size: 11” x 15”
ding to some, whose downfall led to the manifestation of the physical world. This sheds an interesting light on arguably Ryden’s most provocative painting to date, Sophia’s Bubbles. A pale young woman reclines across an abstract, highly nuanced background. This figure is an elegant and languid young female who projects the qualities of both innocence and godliness. Sophia emanates bubbles from her loins (albeit in the manner of a Thai pingpong ball show), each of which contains a symbol representing a planet in our solar system. Ultimately, this theme harkens back to perhaps the oldest of human myths, the creation of the Universe. This idea of “purity” and serenity is also evident in the sublimely beautiful Girl in a Fur Skirt. As in Sophia’s Bubbles, it features an archetypal female figure in a classic Virgin Mary pose, with an open armed, passive and
compassionate stance, a wistful countenance and clad in a white fur skirt which conceals her stomach but reveals her breasts. It is curious to wonder how the fur was acquired: Even a figure of high purity demands a certain sacrifice-offered willingly, or not. Ryden’s consistent depiction of children, predominantly girls, as virginal figures continues to act as a foil for the surrealist circus that swirls around them. In “The Tree Show,” the girls are often wood nymphs, possessors or discoverers of secrets held within the natural world. In “The Snow Yak Show,” they seem to be more like representations of a holier ideal, a personification of purity. However, pure does not necessarily guarantee complete innocence. These blonde, waiflike figures seem to carry a heavier burden and embody a more considered thoughtfulness than previous “charac-
ters” in Ryden’s work. They succumb to the physicality that, at the same time, ties them to the world and to the role that elevates them above it. Grotto of the Old Mass recalls a classic “Our Lady of Lourdes” scene that has been immortalized in countless pieces of plastic, kitschy souvenirs one finds in religious gift shops throughout the world. The scene commemorates the “true” story of a young girl in Southern France who claimed Mary appeared to her in a cave, and warned her of worldly hardships to come. In Ryden’s version, the apparition of Abraham Lincoln replaces that of the Virgin Mary. The 16th American president (a favorite subject of the artist who appears in many of his works) has been mythologized into a historical figure of compassionate wisdom within American culture, someone who is reverentially invoked when talking about the highest of ideals and yet whose image is
also used to sell cars and “tchotckes” on national holidays. Disembodied heads recur in art from early Celtic works to the radiant pastels of Odilon Redon and they can convey an array of meanings. In Fur Girl the enigmatic subject appears to float tranquilly within the void of the nuanced background, sporting a luxurious fall of yak-like hair. This hirsute honey has a halo of hair that frames her doll-like face, her crystal clear eyes and her direct gaze. This figure is more like an oracle than anything else, a figure that crosses between worlds to relay information, and her wooly tresses of hair suggests a feral wildness that has been somewhat tamed. In fact, one of the few paintings in “The Snow Yak Show” that exhibits any sort of palpable tension (despite pervasive unnerving imagery) is Abominable. Here, a yeti-like creature stands and squints atop another bemused Sophia-like character. Do the wild, unpredictable and uncontrollable aspects of Nature triumph over man’s quest for enlightenment? Or is it the other way around?
Indeed, with all the works in “The Snow Yak Show,” and in all of Ryden’s paintings, one could spend hours unraveling the symbolism and references. The examples provided are merely speculations rather than certain, sanctified insight into Ryden’s arcane treasure trove of historical and cultural imagery. The important thing is that beyond Ryden’s formidable painting skill and singular vision is his achievement in the role of a dream merchant. He is an artist/magician who is profoundly able to express questions about the unknowable in pictorial form, and who appreciates the mysteries of science and the universal without judging it (and while having a great sense of humor about it at the same time) and unselfconsciously hoping it will ignite the spark of wonder within others. This essay first appeared in Hi-Fructose Magazine, vol. 11 People have the idea that an image must ‘stand for’ something else, that the “real” meaning needs to be described with language. Instead it is the image itself that is the meaning. -Kirsten Anderson - 2009.
Long Yak 2008, Oil on canvas Painting size: 12” x 30”
Sophia’s Bubbles 2008, Oil on canvas Painting size: 30” x 90”
Girl in a Fur Skirt 2008, Oil on canvas Painting size: 24” x 20”
Abominable 2008, Oil on canvas Painting size: 20” x 16”
Grotto of the Old Mass 2008, Oil on canvas Painting size: 24” x 36”
The Gay 90’s 2010
__________ Paul Kasmin Gallery Nueva York
Pink Lincoln 2010, Oil on canvas Painting size: 22” x 16”
Grinder 2010, Oil on canvas Painting size: 37.5” x 25.5”
The Piano Player 2010, Oil on canvas Painting size: 20” x 30”
Incarnation 2009, Oil on panel Painting size: 72” x 48”
Virgin and Child 2010, Oil on canvas Painting size: 24” x 18”
The Gay 90’s West 2014
__________ Michael Kohn Gallery Los Angeles
Katy Aphrodite 2014, Oil on canvas Painting size: 24” x 30”
Queen Bee 2013, Oil on canvas Painting size: 30” x 19.5”
Meat Dancer 2011, Oil on canvas Painting size: 59” x 31”
The Meat Shop 2011, Oil on canvas Painting size: 20��� x 15”
Medium Yams 2012, Oil on panel Painting size: 8.5” x 12.5”
Awakening the Moon 2010, Oil on canvas Painting size: 40” x 65”
The Parlor - Allegory of Magic, Quintessence and Divine Mystery 2012, Oil on canvas Painting size: 60â€? x 96â€?