Bryan Ryley's small charcoal sketches with some collage are visual think tanks, clear and open for observation. The marks, as if moving in a liquid space that is receptive to the meanderings of the creative impulses, reveal a domain where nascent thoughts begin to grow and acquire a form. The gestation period where growth can take a variety of paths before settling into a more absolute form has been made into an intriguing visual.
The work is reminiscent of the diagrammatic compositional overlays used to illustrate the course that the eye would logically take when meandering about a more traditional painting. But Ryley has declined the opportunity to hang the suggested movement on a pictorial frame and allowed the eye to dance without referential fetters. These drawings from the early eighties have a bare boned, no nonsense immediacy as if they were quick responses from the artist through his medium onto the receptive ground. There is an emotional one sidedness in the making, a pushing and pulling, probing and retreating, that results in an encapsulated field of gestures. The marks are evidence of time that Ryley spent with the once virginal sheet of paper. The size reinforces the sense of intimacy. The simplicity of means and spare use of lines and shapes are clues to the duration of the fleeting affair. And always there is the wonder that these loose, gestural outpourings may have developed into more mature relationships between Ryley and his medium, that what we are standing before may have grown and matured into a full grown piece.
There is a link between the work and the process of art-making that the viewer who is an artist responds to whole heartedly. The culling of ideas between the making and the drawing room floor has taken place. Ryley is offering these gestational drawings up for examination, having realised the importance of these small pieces to his overall oeuvre. Purely abstract, they are levelling examples of the link from the maker to the viewer when the artist shows enough of his mind to allow the viewer to become artistically aligned as well.
These small swatch-like drawings reveal the mind space where even the relationship of the collaged chip to the rapid sketch evokes sampling, experimentation and freedom.
Copyright © 2007, Julie Oakes