The Hastings Contemporary Winter Programme
By Mia L
Acclaimed Irish artist Anne Ryan leads The Hastings Contemporary’s winter programme of events for 2020. Her headlining show Earthly Delites is a playful subversion of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. Inspired by Bosch’s use of space within the canvas and keen eye for detail, Ryan has drawn on her many years as a practising artist and teacher to create a vibrant series of 3D cutouts.
Anne Ryan, 5 women in the woods and one swimming, 2019,
acrylic on card cutout, 51×63 cm
Working in a variety of media – from card and collage to metal – Ryan’s show is wholly immersive, a vivid assault of colour, shapes and contours. The cutouts are purposefully positioned on tables to allow visitors to actively engage with the pagan-like deities. Ryan speaks passionately about the need to ‘let go’ as an artist, to embrace the imperfect. The latter is certainly evident in Earthly Delites and that is perhaps the key to its subversive and gloriously anarchic charm.
The abstract figures on display reflect the artist’s numerous influences: from classical figurative painting and sculpture, to modern day counter-culture. By eschewing the more formative processes of exhibiting in 2D, Ryan blurs the line between the real and the imaginary, the then and now. Her medley of intertwined figures and shapes evoke a refreshingly unrefined vision of physicality and mirth. Indeed, this is not an exhibition for the faint hearted: its exuberant mix of headless shapes and sensual curves demands attention!
Born in Limerick, Ireland, Ryan has enjoyed an esteemed career in the arts to date and was Abbey Fellow in Painting at The British School in Rome in 2016. Her intuitive use of colour and her ability to re-purpose encapsulates The Hasting Contemporary’s rapidly evolving ethos: to champion a broad array of artists and styles, from those residing at the fringes of the 21st century arts scene, to established masters of the past.
Edward Burra (1905-1976), War in the Sun, 1938, watercolour on paper
PICTURE: Lefevre Fine Art Ltd
The Age of Turmoil
The Age of Turmoil features the work of three 20th century British artists; Edward Burra (1905-1976), Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) and Graham Sutherland (1903-1980). The show is decidedly sombre in tone and serves as a marked contrast to Ryan’s joyful cacophony of souls in the adjacent exhibition space. The paintings on display are dark, unsettling and highly stylised – a direct reflection of each artist’s personal experiences of war. Spencer and Sutherland both served in World War II as official war artists, whilst Burra, stricken with debilitating rheumatoid arthritis for many years, observed the horrors of war from a different perspective, as his hometown of Rye became a centre of military activity. The Age of Turmoil conveys a rich body of work, one which explores notions of human suffering from both historical and decidedly personal points of view. Burra’s work is especially moving, given his physical disability and the literal constraints this would have put on his practice as an artist. His unsettling images have a strong, almost surrealist feel, whilst also conveying the brutal mechanization of war.
• Anne Ryan: Earthly Delites and The Age of Turmoil are running from the 18th January-29th March 2020. The Studio at 4am (curated by Anne Ryan) and Quentin Blake: Airborne are running from 18th January-22nd March 2020. Please refer to the Hastings Contemporary website for further information www.hastingscontemporary.org
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