Goulburn Regional Art Gallery.
David Ryrie – Sometime Before Now
26 February – 2 April 2016
To say these photographs were without meaning individually would be untrue. It is their collusion however that has given them greater significance. It was late in 2015, sometime after the fact, that I understood their connection and have been able to identify the world within a world that I constructed around myself and this world still exists. This works was executed during a period when my life was fragmented at best. It was a time when the present had been consumed by the past. These photographs are a document of my place in the greater world both physically and emotionally during that time.
Saturday 11 July – 20 August 2015
Gallery Ecosse, Exeter, NSW
Featuring: Abdul Abdullah, Clara Adolphs, Giles Alexander, Glenn Barkley, Jason Benjamin, Dean Brown, Tamara Dean, McLean Edwards, Stuart Fleming, Ian Grant, David Griggs, Sarah Hendy, Alan Jones, Laura Jones, Michael Kempson, James Kerr, Juz Kitson, Jasper Knight, Michael Lindeman, Tony Lloyd, Euan Macleod, Guy Maestri, Tara Marynowsky, Julian Meagher, Lara Merrett, Daniel Morse, James Powditch, Ben Quilty, Leslie Rice, Paul Ryan, David Ryrie, Luke Sciberras, Peter Sharp, Wendy Sharpe, Ben Smith, Alex Standen, Tim Storrier, Pam Tippett, Craig Waddell, Oliver Watts, Mirra Whale, Paul White, Julian Wolkenstein, Heidi Yardley
30 May – July 9 2015
In this day of digital imagery it has become harder to make a work that is respected as being more than just that. It is more about having something worthwhile to tell about the subject. So said André de Borde, Director of Gallery Ecosse, in reference to an earlier group of works by David Ryrie, Three Steps North of South, but the comment is equally relevant to Ryrie’s latest offerings in This Ain’t Kansas Dorothy.
David Ryrie is one of those photographic artists whose works bear close scrutiny and having done so, command that elusive respect. There is an essential honesty in his endeavour and he places a high value on making art from digital photography, not through technical trickery, but by rigorously interrogating the subject that is in the lens.
Ryrie’s photographs are closely related to story, even history, as in his earlier series inspired by the Exeter rail crash. His art is not simply photographic. His concern with image-making has less to do with accurately documenting what a place or object looks like; the foundation of his art is in the significance and potency of the place and of the story that lies there, patent or hidden. What lies beneath and within contributes to the beauty that is redolent in Ryrie’s images – that beauty is not derived simply from the subject’s natural attributes and features.
A landscape or a lowering sky may arouse in us, as passers by, a fleeting memory or emotion that is always personal. It falls to the artist however, whether on a canvas or through the lens, to provide a more considered view of what we take for granted. Ryrie’s particular obsession is to grasp and re-create what it is that exists beyond the image alone – as he put it, to derive a clandestine beauty when the facade indicates only a small fraction of what is on offer. In this regard Ryrie is one of many artists who seek to understand the deeper aspects of their subjects.
And there is a great deal more to David Ryrie’s work than image-making and story-telling. In This Ain’t Kansas Dorothy the personal uncertainty that he writes about so candidly in his introduction seems to contradict the confidence with which he makes his art. The particular direction of this exhibition references the storms which he likens to his own conflicting emotions, and his own perception of the strengths and weaknesses that inhabit us all, but which perhaps most of us prefer not to interrogate with the same analysis and perception as he has applied to his own feelings. Here, his own uncertainties are laid bare.
These works have a surreal quality. They are the stuff of dreams, imaginings and deep concerns. The storms that he refers to are shown in their majesty and power, but the works reference also the diminutive presence of mankind within the elements, whether by the device of a power line across a threatening sky, or the fragmented light of a car passing through the ghostly landscape. There is an image of the artist himself, sleep denied, the twin storms outside the room and within his soul, both unseen but imagined by the viewer. There is strong reference here also to the insignificance of us as mortals, characterised by the image of two fisherman afloat on the ocean, set opposite the photograph of his older son – as Ryrie puts it, my intention is simply to let us not forget our significance in relation to the greater world and in the smaller ones which we create.
Man’s threatening impact on the landscape is not denied here either – it is instead emphasised as being detrimental, visually and in fact, in a world where, ultimately, the elements – not mankind – hold court. These images at once display the raw beauty of the Australian landscape among the elements, while pointing to man’s skill in ruining it – suburban sprawl and introduced vermin, both blights on Nature. Then tacky, garish objects superimposed – the Australian landscape increasingly threatened. Nature made vile by man. Such are the contradictions of beauty and ugliness that are surrogates for Ryrie’s own internal contradictions and deep concerns. In this exhibition he has exposed both to examination, highlighting the scale between the abhorrent and the magical, and he has done so skillfully.
Julian Beaumont, May 2015
Gallery Ecosse is a contemporary art gallery situated in the Southern Highlands of NSW in the beautiful historic village of Exeter. Ecosse showcase some of the mostexciting contemporary artists working in Australia today.
The gallery exhibits a range of work by Australian contemporary artists including prominant Indigenous artists as a permanent part of the stable. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, artifacts and limited edition works are available, as Gallery Ecosse makes quality art accessible.
Gallery Ecosse will be showing three wonderful artists at the festival.
David Ryrie, Jasper Knight and Laura Jones.
“For me, the subject of the picture is always more important than the picture.” – Diane Arbus
A photograph is a document, a translation of sorts by in our case a photographer. This document becomes a record that is open to interpretation by its viewer. In the age of the digital image, making a respected artistic photographic image has become more heavily about having something worthwhile to say. ‘Three Steps North of South’ looks at heady days populated by mischief, loneliness and tragedy simultaneously. We of course will ultimately apply our own story to these images however the core themes of Ryrie’s work remain patent. Ryrie first used a camera at an early age. “I have always taken photographs for myself. Sharing them has been a challenge. I felt that something was missing, and that something was the stories that goes with them. One of the great struggles for many artists is the overcoming of a feeling of being a fraud. Ryrie is clearly far from this, he is a storyteller. His concern with image making isn’t so much with documenting what a place looks like; the foundation is in the significance and potency of place – what it ‘feels’ like. His images evoke the idea of fragility, loneliness, and yet there is a simultaneous idea of beauty, of being uplifted. Either way the artist allows us to make up our own mind. Ryrie’s images are evidently void of the figure and yet one feels an overwhelming sense of a human footprint. “There is a commonality in these two different sets of work for me. They are both everyday places that people inhabit and use daily, but somehow they represent something beyond that. That ‘something else’ is different for everybody. Your age, your personal history or a unifying event, can leave a person with a memory that will last a lifetime.” Much like the photographs of Joel Sternfeld whose large-format documentary style pictures explore the irony of human-altered landscapes in the United States, Ryrie explores the idea of consequences; there is unease in this sensation of aftermath he has captured. “Teenage experiences in parks, though different for us all, are something we all have in common on some level. Or take a train disaster, indeed a unifying event for a group of people, is far from common but equally impactful. This commonality is the form of strange beauty that such places share through their history. In one sense, events make a place what it is”. ‘Three Steps North of South’ focuses on places that have played host to such formative events – “Exeter Park has seen events that I have sometimes witnessed and indeed participated in during my own teen years, and Exeter Station was the scene of a horrific rail disaster, an event I did not bare witness to, but somehow has a lingering fingerprint, an indelible mark as such, that affected me before I was even aware that it had occurred”. Regardless of the event, whether it is boundless teen spirit or a tragic loss of life in a rail disaster, the feeling of beauty is evident in Ryrie’s images. They speak of greater things than Saturday sport or catching the 8.02am train to the city. This scratching away at the surface has become a compulsion for Ryrie. An obsession to capture this ‘something else’ that exists – clandestine beauty where the facade indicates but a small fraction of what is on offer.
Andre de Borde