Diving into Ryan Callis' shape-shifting 'Ocean Memories'
By David Pagel
Aug 12, 2017 | 11:10 AM
If an early 20th century painting by Arthur Dove had a love child with an early 21st century emoji, it might look like one of Ryan Callis’ seven new paintings at Edward Cella Art & Architecture.
Dove’s DNA can be seen in the compositional sophistication Ryan brings to his paintings, mixing representational elements with geometric shapes, both simple and fanciful. Part of paintings fall into place with their neighbors while never feeling cramped or crowded.
The muscular colors and slippery tonal shifts Dove (1880-1946) deployed to construct his dynamic landscapes lives on in the visual electricity of Ryan’s idiosyncratic palette, whose funky juxtapositions of organic and unnatural tints are a bit more jittery yet cut from the same cloth.
At the same time, the immediate, easy-to-read clarity of emojis — along with their come-one, come-all accessibility — are part of the genetic makeup of Ryan’s user-friendly paintings. Unpretentious and easygoing, his jigsaw-puzzle compositions are as playful and engaging as cartoons — and significantly more mysterious.
Some seem to be landscapes, their snow-capped peaks towering overhead. Others appear to be maps. Still others resemble naval flags that have been shredded and sewn back together with crazy-quilt glee. A few recall soapy loads of clothes swirling in washing machines.
What’s most remarkable about Callis’ paintings is that each seems to be all of these things — at different times and depending upon your perspective. All is fluid, nothing fixed.
Titled “Ocean Memories,” Callis’ exhibition presents his memories of waves ridden, sunrises savored and soft sand squished between toes as experiences that never get old and are even more joyous when shared with other beach — and art — lovers.
Edward Cella Art & Architecture, 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. Through Aug. 19; closed Sundays and Mondays. (323) 525-0053, www.edwardcella.com