Brigid Ryan

Embodying Landscape

April 20- May 11 2013

"I am in the landscape and the landscape is in me." John Olsen

Part landscape, part figuration, Brigid Ryan's paintings bring together a multiplicity of things seen, felt and remembered. There is a feeling for the interconnectedness of all things and a sense of humanity as we enter her experiential response to place. Brigid describes her works as a kind of anthropomorphism of landscape. "There are many parallels between interactions in the natural world and relationships in human existence," she offers. "By exploring the shapes, colours, patterns and textures of the land in conjunction with my domestic surrounds, I seek to give form to personal states of mind."

A recent visit to an Aboriginal community in Central Australia was the initial catalyst for much of Brigid's new works. "I was overwhelmingly inspired by the landscape and the Aboriginal women's sense of spirituality that was linked to the land," she says. Correspondingly, Brigid's subjects also contain an immersive, animistic quality. Life is never static. Her paintings invite the viewer into preserves that are cumulative and continually evolving.

The works render the female form in a tenuous tying to alternately wide primordial landscapes and intimate but circumscribing domestic spaces. Soft, vulnerable flesh contrasts with the weathered rock of ages and striped fragments that signify her lounge room furnishings. Sometimes there is a sense of alienation and inner searching, at others, a sense of wholeness or integration. "What I hope becomes evident to the viewer is the solitude of the figures struggling against dissolution in the silence of the painted interior or exterior landscape," muses Brigid.

The bird is a recurring motif in Brigid's latest body of work. "Many native birds reflect in colour and markings their local environments," she explains. "They symbolise for me the duality of forces and the delicate balance between fragility and adaptability, vulnerability and resilience." In the painting The Turning Babbler Inside, a fitfully dreaming figure encounters the Babbler bird, that long-tailed, sociable creature whose untidy dome-like nest is assembled from a collection of thick twigs. The bird and the dreamer are separated by an arc of rhythmic blue lines suggestive of a body of water and representing a transitional state of cleansing.

"All art communicates without words," continues Brigid. "My art is a quest for an inherent language where the sleeping figure becomes a vehicle for expressing the realms of the unconscious." Akin to the mind in meditation, boundaries between figuration and abstraction are fluid, they fluctuate then coalesce in Brigid's paintings. "I don't create initial sketches but rather work quickly and gesturally in charcoal directly onto raw linen, developing a series of overlapping figures that are then painted in layers of thick, wax-infused oil or thin, transparent washes to reveal and mask certain areas. It is in this moment of ambiguity, when edges dissolve or marks assert themselves, that the painting begins to breathe."

Whether set within the comfortable confines of the domestic situation or amidst the raw energies of the land, Brigid's largely self-referential images express a burgeoning transcendence: "Each work is a record of sustained experience, a juggle of questions and judgments incorporated in paint."

Brigid Ryan works from her studio in an old tool shed sheltered by giant camphor trees on the family property near Bangalow. She holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Bachelor of Education, Southern Cross University Lismore, 2006 and was the Winner of Bangalow Youth Emerging Art Prize 2005, Winner of People's Choice Award, Wilson Art Prize, 2012, Finalist in the Northern Rivers Portrait Prize LRG, 2012, 2011 and was a Finalist in the Border Art Prize 2011. Ryan is currently a secondary school Visual Arts educator in Lismore having also taught art in London during 2009.



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