The River Rats

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River Rats 1 © Courtesy of the artist and Western Exhibitions
The River Rats

1709 W Chicago Ave.
60622 Chicago
October 21st, 2011 - December 3rd, 2011
Opening: October 21st, 2011 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

West Loop/West Town
Tue-Sat 11-6
works on paper


In Gallery 1, Ryan Travis Christian presents a new series of works on paper collectively titled "The River Rats" and in Gallery 2, a selection of collaborative drawings by Christian and a group of artist friends from across the U.S. The show opens on Friday, October 21 with a free public reception from 5 to 8pm and will run through December 3, 2011. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm and by appointment.

Conceived in the spirit of George Condo, Ub Iwerks, The Hairy Who, construction-site warning signage, and a vast assortment of other visual elements, Ryan Travis Christian's new series of graphic graphite drawings, "The River Rats", are inspired by outwardly surreal personal narratives. The drawings are fueled by the absurdity of life in his small hometown and take the "River Rats" as endlessly fascinating subjects for both studies and stories. Recently waxing nostalgic for these ridiculous characters and instances, the pieces have been created in the last 5 months with recurring themes of, but not limited to; fires, wheelchairs, heavy petting, fireworks, drug and alcohol usage, rivers, boats, beat up cars, death, homes, speed bumps, and cats.

Over the past three years Christian has developed an idiosyncratic style of drawing: densely layered intensities of graphite pencil, graphic yet amorphous stylistic flourishes, in high contrast and slow motion, and executed in a cartoon y/ comic-esque style, but in an understated sort of way. Working in a stream- of-conscious fashion, Christian inserts his signature characters into hazy sfumato-esque landscapes and skewed spaces alike that repeatedly melt and coalesce.

This is Ryan Travis Christian’s first solo show at Western Exhibitions. Christian has had solo shows at Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco Ebersmoore in Chicago, and has been included in group show at Show and Tell in Toronto, Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton, MAMA in Rotterdam, Baer Ridgway in San Francisco, Space 1026 in Philadelphia and Synchronicty in Los Angeles and has curated exhibitions at many of these same venues. In 2010 Christian organized a three-part exhibition, “The Power of Selection, Parts 1, 2, and 3” at Western Exhibitions, the goal of which was to increase the circulation of contemporary artwork seen in Chicago by showing works by out of town and/or up-and-coming artists. New City named Christian as one of Chicago’s “Breakout Artists” for 2010 and his work has been written about in Daily Serving, Beautiful/Decay and The Chicago Reader. He lives and works in the Chicagoland area.