About Ry An:
Ry An died, briefly, when he was 23 & claimed to have had an out-of-body experience in the process. He left the United States shortly after, spending the next 11 years traveling throughout Japan, painting nearly 1,000 landscapes “en plein air”.
He lived alone in rural, coastal, & mountainous areas with limited social interaction. His paintings from this time period tried to draw attention to both: this sense of isolation and, “a stillness of time”.
There were earthquakes, landslides, large flea-ridden rats, systemic racism… The Chinese Mafia robbed his apartment. He was briefly the “mascot” for a local Yakuza boss. He caught on fire in an unheated apartment & was hit by cars while cycling – 5 times, the 4th time inducing a bout of temporary amnesia.
Soon after agreeing to marry a former Japanese teacher, she became abusive. He painted outside the house as much as he could but, ultimately, decided to leave Japan when she repeatedly threatened to/ attempted to kill him (& his cat).
He returned to the United States in 2012 to escape these escalating abuses to work on an MFA in Illustration, hoping to add a more explicitly narrative element to his art. He then spent 10-12 hours a day over the following 3 years at a desk near solitude.
In 2014, he met a woman whom he fell fabulously in love with, but she also had an abusive ex. One night, while Ry An was working on an illustration assignment in his own home, she was nearly murdered in hers: ”blood and broken glass everywhere!” She seemed to go insane and vanished soon after.
Ry An had been performing in the top 20% of his MFA classes but struggled to complete the program – associating illustrations and narrative art, circumstantially, with the bloodshed and loss of a loved one he had witnessed. After months of producing no work at all, he learned to make sculptures from discarded paper, these being far enough removed from two-dimensional art not to trigger the same psychological stresses.
While he frequently focuses on these sculptures now, he is also working on an extended series of paintings that portray the sculpted characters in ‘fraught narrative settings’, acting out allegorical scenes from his life.
My attempts to cope with several terrible experiences led me to create a series of narrative oil paintings and recycled paper sculptures featuring vulnerable characters in allegorically fraught situations: – a blind horse, – a butterfly with tattered wings, – a cat on fire… These pieces, drawn from “a deep reservoir of assorted traumas”, tie in so that a story seems to unfold from one to the next. This is a story of predation, consumption, and social abuses with “fun” & colorful terrors replacing the real world kind.
When interesting ideas appear in these paintings, I explore them in 3-dimensions with reprocessed junk mail & other discarded materials. By shining a strong light on these sculptures, I can better conceptualize how they should fit into the paintings: how the light should look and how the shadows should be cast… The paintings and sculptures inform each other in this way.
- Princeton Arts Council: “Ry An’s ‘恐れ森 / the Woods”
- Gaelen Center for the Arts: “Ry An’s ‘恐れ森 / the Woods”
- Gaelen Center for the Arts: “Ry An’s: ‘I’m Having a Heart Time / 心ショー”
- Gaelen Juried Art Show, juried by Teddi Dolf – 1st Prize Mixed Media
- New Jersey Emerging Artists Series: 2023 Selection Committee Member
- Northern Light Gallery, Special Merit Award for Painted Media
- Hamilton Street Gallery: “Dreamland”
- Hamilton Street Gallery: “Underground”
- “43rd Annual Monmouth Museum Juried Art Exhibit”
- Studio Montclair: On and Off the Walls
- Center for Contemporary Art: “2023 International Juried Exhibition”
- Powell Lane Arts: “Portray It”
- Powell Lane Arts: “The Written Word”
- Powell Lane Arts: “The Strange & Unusual”
- ACL Gallery: “The Face of Diversity”
- ACL Gallery: “The Seat of Creativity”
- Gaelen Juried Art Show, juried by Virginia Schaffer Block – 1st Prize Sculpture
- Northern Light Gallery, Special Merit Award for Sculpture
- Studio Montclair: “Viewpoints 2022”, curated by Roger C Tucker III
- Studio Montclair & Montclair Art Museum: “Inspired by George Inness”
- ACL Gallery: “Tell Me a Story”
- ACL Gallery: “It’s Personal”
- BAU Gallery (Beacon NY): “Ignite” Juried by Kathleen Vance & Daniel Aycock
- Lycoming College Art Gallery: “2022 International Juried Art Exhibition”
- Trenton City Museum: “Ellarslie Open 39”
- Powell Lane Arts: “Paperwork”
- Powell Lane Arts: “Changelings”
- Powell Lane Arts: “Small Works”
- the Banana Factory: “Compendium: Ex Libris” – 2nd Place
- the Banana Factory: “Compendium: Playlist” – 3rd Place
- Novado Gallery: “Memento Mori” – Skull exhibit, curated by Anne Novado
- Princeton University: “Unique Minds: Creative Voices”
- 8th Annual New Jersey Highlands Juried Art Exhibit: Our Natural Heritage
- Monmouth Museum: “恐れ森・the Woods” – solo show
- Ethan Cohen Gallery: Darkest Before Dawn, curated by Raul De Lara & Ethan Cohen
- Studio Montclair: Viewpoints 2020 curated by Virginia Fabbri Butera, PhD- Honorable Mention
- Long Beach Island Foundation’s 22nd Annual “Works on Paper” curated by Sarah Suzuki
- Rexer Gallery: “American Eyes” curated by Eric Chelman
- Drawing Rooms Jersey City: the Big Show – All Animals Welcome
- Monmouth Museum: R’emerged: NJ Emerging Artists Alumni Exhibition
- “6th Highlands Juried Art Exhibit” at the Morris Museum – 3rd Place
- Site: Brooklyn: “Animals”, curated by Alina Cohen
- the Banana Factory: “The Art of Storytelling”
- Deep Space Gallery: “9 Lives” – Arts Exclusive Cat Show
- (2019 – 2020) Fine, Contemporary, & Asian Arts Advisor – Tenmoku Auction House
- LITM (Jersey City), Monthly Exhibitor
- Trenton City Museum: “Ellarslie Open 35” – Dick Blick Award – Jack Richeson Award
- Autumn 2018 ESKFF/ Eileen S Kaminsky Family Foundation Residency: “The Woods”
- Center for Contemporary Art: “2018 International Juried Exhibition”
- “Historic Medford Plein Air Show 2018”
- “39th Annual Monmouth Museum Juried Art Exhibit”
- Monmouth Museum Watercolor Exhibition
- Plein Air Exhibit of the Trenton Museum at Ellarslie
- MFA candidate at the Graduate School of Illustration, American Academy of Art University, w/Focus on Animals & Creatures, Ink & Watercolor
- 700 Landscape Paintings done in rural/ remote parts of Japan