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Ryan McLennan, From Fur to Bone @ Kinsey/DesForges

04.10.08   |   Posted in: Art & Design, Events   |   By: Trina Calderon
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Before I left my house for this opening, I peeked at Ryan’s website. My first impression was that the images were dark and there was something very frightening happening. I couldn’t figure them out right off the bat, and I almost didn’t want to because something about them made me uncomfortable. When I got to the gallery, I walked right up to the first painting, Communion, and became mesmerized. There was a very personal moment between these animals and me! I was suddenly drawn in and completely enamored with his technique and amazing talent. The animals and the dead trees they inhabit stood out in the absence of any background. The white paper he used provided a starkness that shed light on a meaning that I was barely grasping before. What seemed scary to me was in fact, scary. The animals were involved in a struggle in their habitat. They were holding onto what they could in their home – somewhere that had been encroached upon, somewhere that was barren to them, and somewhere that they needed each other to survive in.


All the paintings have a common thread visually in the use of a bear made out of foliage that consists of little leaves and vines. The bear is shred to pieces in many of the images. However, parts of it are used for a nest in Expecting, and even as a home, as seen in Accommodations. Another stirring portrait of survival is its use by a pair of moose who are pulling at the vines with their mouths, each trying to get a piece, hence the title, Rochambeau. The bear brings sensitivity to the paintings. Its fragility mirrors that of the environment and the animals’ existence that is often overlooked when neighborhoods are expanding or cities are encroaching. The bear almost seems like a big, soft, helpless teddy bear that is coming apart at the seams. A favorite of mine, Perimeter, shows a group of deer on the outer edges of this dying forest, with one feeding on the remnants of the foliaged bear head. In the rear is a majestic longhorn that looks onto them a bit concerned, and distanced in his corner. It’s as if he has been pushed back, away from his environment. The painting is sad and beautiful. The realism is remarkable thus making you question the changing environment and your role in this eco-system that is shared by all.

More photos after the jump.





2 Responses to “Ryan McLennan, From Fur to Bone @ Kinsey/DesForges”

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  2. Olga Says:

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