Art Review: David Ryan at Mark Moore Gallery

In a new body of work at Mark Moore Gallery, Las Vegas painter David Ryan intensifies the impact of his suave abstractions by roughing them up. This change leaves the goofy gracefulness for which Ryan is known in the background, bringing, front and center, a scrappiness that is nothing if not electrifying, its pleasures jolting and eye-opening.

Much remains the same in Ryan’s multipart paintings. Each consists of four layers of synthetic panel the artist has laser-cut into odd shapes, spray-painted each a single, sizzling color and then pieced them together, leaving gaps that reveal otherwise hidden strata. Many of his quirky compositions recall the improbable offspring of a homemade jigsaw puzzle and a contour map of an intergalactic outpost.

Four significant shifts distinguish Ryan’s new pieces from those he has been exhibiting for the last 10 years, in five solo shows in Los Angeles and others around the country. The most important involves the lines that define his panels’ contours.

No longer smooth, speedy and sensuous, like those of a sports car, Ryan’s lines are now jagged and jittery. Embodying both the micro-precision of digital data and the shakes of old age, delirium tremens or scared-silly terror, his quivering lines make the shapes they circumscribe seem less stable and more tenuous—as if, at any second, they might disintegrate into the visual equivalent of static.

To complement—and complicate—this fugitive transience, Ryan has pumped up his colors, simplified his compositions and, in two of the show’s five knockout pieces, replaced his trademark panels with thick pieces of brightly colored felt. These moves amplify the nervousness of his works, making for paintings that stretch the definition of the medium while broadening the emotional reach and deepening the psychological resonance of Ryan’s highly refined art.


(Mark Moore Gallery, 5790 Washington Blvd., (310) 453-3031, ENDS SATURDAY MARCH 16.