Richard Ryan

About Artist: Richard Ryan is a contemporary painter whose still life and figurative works feature highly structured yet enigmatic compositions and a brilliant, clarified palette. Ryan's work is realist in style. Painting in both large and small formats, he combines allegorical references and pop elements to create images that radiate a subtle melancholy and mystery. The physical objects in Ryan's work often appear to be suspended in time, both literally and figuratively, implying a hidden narrative or subtext—the human presence is felt but rarely seen. This effect is aided by Ryan's creative use of negative space, an inhabited darkness that creates a dramatic tension within his paintings (a technique reminiscent of that used by 17th-century Spanish painters such as Francisco de Zurbarán and Juan Sánchez Cotán). This metaphysical quality suffuses his objects and figures and creates a strong sense of the sacred, a spiritual resonance that, according to art critic Donald Kuspit, is quite similar to that in the paintings of the Dutch master Jan Van Eyck. Ryan's is a modernist by training—he studied with Frank Lobdell and Nathan Oliveira at Stanford and Elizabeth Murray at Yale—and his paintings utilize abstract constructs to a large degree. He challenges the viewer's conventional notions of visual relationships by playing with perspective and symmetry. His compositions utilize complex mathematical calculations that enable him to distort space and render forms with illusionistic clarity. Richard Ryan is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant. His work is held in the collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Fogg Museum of Art in Boston, among others. He currently resides in Northfield, Massachusetts, and is a professor at Boston University.

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