Robert Ryan’s Vivid Iconography in San Francisco

May 17, 2018The Grael, San Francisco

Robert Ryan recently had work in a group show titled IIII at The Grael. This is the gallery’s fourth show at their location tucked away near Potrero Del Sol Skatepark in San Francisco’s Mission District. Ryan’s work thematically encompasses occult and religious iconography, recreating familiar imagery in his signature style.

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“Each of the artists represented has put an immense amount of effort into creating new series of pieces, which represent their independent styles.

In the initial discussion of the show, it occurred to me that there exist different forces which “turn the world” embedded in the practice of each artist involved. From the warmth of Robert Ryan’s high chroma Deities, which honor and blur the line between Eastern and Western tradition, to the Death Gods of Chriss Dettmer’s Winterscapes. The push and pull of these different forces cool and heat the breath of the space they occupy.

When Rob Ryan sent me the photos of his first piece for the show, I asked him how he would feel about titling the show “IIII.” A reference to not only the obvious number of people in the show, as well as it being the fourth exhibition at The Grael. Furthermore, in it’s reference to the Marseilles Tarot, which shows the numeral “IIII” as an ascending number, rather than a subtractive number, in contrast to “IV,” the traditional Roman numeral. It underscores the idea that each exhibition and work within it is a progression, while simultaneously being a part of a larger cycle.” ––Trevor Lee Ewald, owner of The Grael

painting robert ryan the grael

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