Well, Here We Aren't Again
CAM Raleigh will be presenting a major exhibition of artworks by Ryan Travis Christian, titled Well, Here We Aren't Again. This is Christian’s first museum show and will feature a large-scale wall drawing. Christian will spend three weeks in CAM Raleigh’s Independent Gallery creating a 26-foot long drawing. Visitors are welcome to watch his unique process of drawing during museum hours. Ryan Travis Christian is a Chicago-area artist who works primarily with graphite and ink. His images are constructed using abstract elements, comic utilities, and old fashion cartoon iconography.
Ryan Travis Christian’s drawings, though not literally animated, are full of motion, explosions, eye-bulges, jazz hands, frenetic patterns and formal gymnastics worthy of a Futurist’s kaleidoscopic vision of a speeding, pulsating humanity. Like the Futurists and the Cubists before him, Christian is concerned with picturing time and space as fractured and multi-dimensional – characters bounce back to life no matter how absurd the violence.
This warping of mortality informs Ryan Travis Christian’s artworks. His chiaroscuro graphite drawings recall the black and white Disney cartoons of the 1920s. In nodding to early Disney animation, Christian fills in his characters with the cultural politics of that era. The hugely influential Disney animator Ub Iwerks emigrated from Germany to the US and gave life to Mickey. Iwerks was responsible for defining the Disney style and developed it simultaneous to German Expressionism. Christian borrows freely from the campy horror of Iwerks’ cult classic, where a graveyard is a playground for death to rattle out its funeral song. Here, humor is horror in disguise. Christian’s zigzag patterns and over-crowded compositions engulf the viewer and create a new visual vocabulary. Christian is informed by contemporary artists such as Arturo Herrera and Kenny Scharf's psychedelic monsters. Christian deconstructs the Disney fantasy lifestyle with cartoon icons and erases their iconic identity features.