David Ryan’s work explores formal relationships through abstraction. He is also deeply interested in the history of these forms and their shifting meaning over the last century or so. Such formal considerations are always seen ‘in dialogue’ – both internally and externally. In this light, the paintings aim to explore certain contradictions – between private and social, inner and outer, and the autonomous and referential. The present series of works were initiated in Rome, at the British School, on an Abbey Fellowship in 2016. Since then a series of works have continued to explore these variations on a single painting: Giacomo Balla’s painting Insidie di Guerra of 1915. In the works that have followed the first series, the language of Futurist dynamism is broken up, restaged, and ‘slowed down’ through the process of serialising the original painting. These works reflect on the past’s conception of the future, operating rather like an architectural fragmented artefact or inscription that generate new meanings for the present. Formally, the paintings operate as ‘sets’ and their installation can be configured as lines, grids or spatialized; bringing attention to a temporal dimension, akin to a set of musical variations using the original source painting as a score, almost, for potential development and endless variation. Their language, individually, is extremely painterly, whereby Ryan wants to assert the materiality of the conditions of painting and the possibility of its collapse back into the situation of raw materiality.

David Ryan is a visual artist and writer also actively involved in contemporary music. He studied at Liverpool and Lanchester Polytechnic, Coventry, and also on a travelling German Scholarship to Hamburg, Lubeck and Berlin. He is currently reader in Fine Art at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. He was Abbey Fellow in Painting at the British School at Rome in 2015/2016. As a critic and commentator, he has written for numerous art journals including Contemporary, Art Press, Art Monthly, and many others. He exhibited in British Abstract Painting 2001 at Flowers Gallery, and more recently Crossing Abstraction 1 & 2 at the Berlin Kunsterhaus Bethianen, 2009, and Kunsthaus and Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt, 2012. In 2015 he curated a large-scale exhibition looking at the relationship between drawing and musical notation at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich. Other exhibitions include Ex Roma at APT Gallery, 2017; Imagining Architecture at Toulouse Palais des Arts, France, 2018; Screenings of his video works have taken place at Konzerthaus, Berlin; Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire; Issue Project Space, New York; Darmstadt Ferienkurse for Neue Musik, Qo2 in Brussels, Belgium, and the Venice Biennale. In 2017, his video piece, Via San Teodora 8, was featured in In Nomine Lucis at Museo Santa Maria Della Scala, Sienna, Italy.