Professor Emeritus of Art Paul Ryan Opens 33-Year Survey Exhibition

January 3, 2019

The dual venue exhibition In Dialogue: Paul Ryan, Paintings 1985–2018 will be on view at Mary Baldwin’s Hunt Gallery Jan. 7 – Feb. 7, 2019, and at the Staunton Augusta Art Center galleries in the Smith Center Jan. 11 – Feb. 9, 2019.

Paul Ryan was born in 1955 in South Bend, Indiana. A painter, art critic, curator, and teacher, Ryan lives and works in Virginia and Illinois. Since 1983 he has shown his work nationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions at a variety of galleries, art centers, and museums. He is represented by Reynolds Gallery in Richmond, and his paintings are in numerous public, corporate, and private collections.

Ryan is a two-time recipient of The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts professional fellowship in painting: 2009–10 and 2016–17. He is professor of art in the Department of Art and Art History at Principia College in Illinois and professor emeritus of art at Mary Baldwin University, where he taught drawing, painting, and courses on contemporary art and critical theory, and served as the university’s gallery director and two-time department chair. He also taught critical theory in the MFA program of the Department of Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University from 2005 to 2016.  Ryan has been a contributing editor for Art Papers Magazine since 1990, and since 1989 his writing has appeared in publications such as Art Papers, Sculpture Magazine, ArtLies, The New Art Examiner, and Art in America. He is married to cultural critic and writer Dinah Ryan and has two grown daughters, Naomi and March, and a granddaughter, Naomi Marcella Leo.

Ryan writes the following about his 33-year survey (the artist’s full statement is available in the catalog that accompanies this exhibition):

The work in this exhibition represents five series of paintings completed between 1987 and 2018. Additionally, two paintings from my graduate school years are included — one from 1985 and the other from 1986 — as this time was vital to my development as an artist interested in aesthetics and art’s conceptual capacity. The title of the show, In Dialogue, refers to my belief that art is always engaged in conversation — with the artist, the viewer, with other art, the art world, and with the larger world. I decided on a synchronous installation rather than a chronological one for two reasons: the exhibition is at two different venues, and a chronological installation would have perhaps suggested too much of a divide, possibly implying a significant break where there is none; and a synchronous installation offers more playful and surprising juxtapositions, though at the risk of the installation looking like a group show.

Matt Shelton, artist, art critic, and educator, describes Ryan’s work as follows (extracted from the full critical review Paul Ryan: Conveyor published in the catalog that accompanies this exhibition):

His work is abstract because of his personal, deeply political commitment. He’s a believer in embodying one’s beliefs. The work is not a manifesto or an anthem. It is anti-anthemic, a dispersion of meaning. As Paul Chan said in an interview in BOMB Magazine in July 2005, “politics centralizes power, art disperses it.”

Ryan positions himself as existing within an unjust world. Everything is sharp, but nothing is clear. His work is work to read, like reading a doctor’s handwriting or a poorly translated assembly instructions, like reading the terms and conditions or user agreement for a new credit card. His paintings are so … demanding!

A reception will be held for the artist from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, in Hunt Gallery. Ryan will speak about his work at 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

A second reception will be held for the artist from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 at the Staunton Augusta Art Center galleries in the Smith Center, 20 S. New Street in Staunton. There will be an artist’s gallery talk at 6 p.m.

Hunt Gallery is dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary work in all media by regionally and nationally recognized artists. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the academic year. Hunt Gallery’s schedule for the 2018–19 academic year can be found online.