On view this month, and corresponding with her work on view at the Whitney Biennial this summer, artist Veronica Ryan brings a body of new compositions to Paula Cooper this month, underscoring a unique and open-ended series of material dialogues that showcase the artist’s investigation and interpretation of the language of the modern day. Capping off a whirlwind two years including an impressive series of shows and her recent recognition with an OBE, the show at Paula Cooper offers a rare but concise look at the concerns and questions her work poses.
Ryan’s meticulously handmade sculptures allow a paucity of means to inform a rich signification. Combining fruits, seeds, pods, husks, and the manufactured materials used to divide and transport them, Ryan hints at the concerns of global trade, pathological disfunctions, and ecological collapse without forcing the disastrous implications. Through weaving, stitching, casting, and staining Ryan transforms overlooked everyday materials into treasures, presenting fragile sculptural propositions to resolve frustrations with the systems that produced them. Nestled in niches, stacked on shelves, suspended, hanging, or neatly arranged on the floor, the works are positioned in relationship to a support or structure, making themselves at home wherever they may be. Rough fabrics are twisted into new permutations, while in others, fabric forms contend with organic material, an intriguing mode that emphasizes shared origins while emphasizing the activity and flows of modern capital.
The exhibition’s title, Along a Spectrum, points to the ability of objects to represent diverse psychological propositions and embody issues of displacement and alienation particular to their context. Ryan has described how people take their culture with them, interweaving past and present, and these threads run through her work. Early pieces on paper are highly personal, sometimes incorporating family photographs and medical care items, and others have a universal significance in their surprising uses of ubiquitous materials, such as the brightly colored netting one might buy fruit or nuts in at the market. But appearances can be misleading, and what might look like a collection of mango seeds, for example, could in fact have been shaped by hand. Leaving this tension as explicit, Ryan’s work opens up an enlightening series of considerations.
The show closes June 4th.
– D. Creahan
Veronica Ryan: Along a Spectrum [Exhibition Site]