Lecture review (Jasmine Lewis)

Ryan Mrozowski is a New York based artist that often creates works with contradicting and thought provoking imagery. He describes his art as making the impossible possible through the images he chooses to portray. The lecture begins with an introduction and almost reflection of some of the influences that have contributed to his art making. In particular he points to the primitive video games he played as a child and the flat non-dimensional space they occupied on the screen. The discussion then moves to his graduate studies where he was introduced to various art, such as byzantine, and became interested in the flat painterly quality that was brought to the often-repetitive mages.

In describing his work and the images he likes to explore, Ryan provided several examples. In a painting titled ‘Pulled from the Water’ there are many figures in robes on the bank of a body of water and it is not fully clear, as in many of his paintings, what is happening in the composition. . Ryan compares many of his works to film stills that show the architecture or what goes into making of an image.  This is reflected in many of his works, especially in the including of crowds and the presence of a stage. He discusses the process of using a forced frontal perspective and images that compete for the frontal plane. In many of his works he uses strange scenarios that leave the viewer to puzzle what exactly is happening. In a particular image there are figures in white robes that could be either men in lab coats or spiritual leaders and he states that he is interested in creating images that are narrative abstractions with a clear visualization but unclear contextualization. He utilizes his own symbolism to make relevant comments that require a bit of thought. It is interesting how a man in a suit with a patterned cloth over his face can allude to the over use of technology and the veil it puts over people when they are solely focused on electronic devices such as cell phones. The often-obscure works include thought provoking and relevant commentaries.

Ryan then moves on to talking about some later works that were mostly focused on exploration or using the canvas as a place of contemplation. This body of work consisted of many paintings that focused on the merging of foreground and background, where the background might blend into the foreground and take over the main subject. As well as making several of these paintings, Ryan also explored film and piecing together various film elements from old movies to create small vignettes with strange and interesting narratives. Some of these included small men wrangling a ghost in a family living room or the heads of crowd members bursting into tiny flames.  This film exploration evolved into a longer film piece that was personally my favorite work presented. The artist is from Pennsylvania where the cult classic night of the living dead was filmed and he described the movie as having a large impact on his upbringing. This was the source material for his looping film of a woman running through a house. He cut and re-pasted the film to create a really interesting almost ghost like image. In his most recent works there is an emphasis on reclaiming popular culture and re-appropriating it into something of his own.

The lecture by Ryan was witty yet informative at the same time. The artist has a very good sense of what is behind the art he creates and the images he enjoys exploring. He describes his work as taking something serious and treating it in a silly fashion and taking something silly and treating it in a serious fashion. I always like hearing about the different processes art makers go through in order to arrive at a body of work and his was a very intriguing evolution.

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