Ry An / 來 苑 －'Rai En' (with a pause in the middle) means: expected/ anticipated garden
Ry An | 來 苑
2020 Monmouth Museum’s: Emerging Artists Series: “the Woods”, Solo show
2020 Montclair Vegan: “A Post Impressionist Nothern New Jersey, Solo show
2019 Morris Museum: “6th Highlands Juried Art Exhibit” - 3rd Overall
2019 Drawing Rooms Jersey City: “The Big Show”
2019 Site: Brooklyn: “Animals” - curated by Alina Cohen
2019 the Banana Factory: “the Art of Storytelling”
2019 Deep Space Gallery: “9 Lives” – Arts Exclusive Cat Show
2019 Fine, Contemporary, & Asian Arts Advisor – Tenmoku Auction House
2019 LITM (Jersey City), Monthly Exhibitor
2018 Center for Contemporary Art: “2018 International Juried Exhibition”
2018 Autumn 2018 ESKFF (Eileen S Kaminsky Family Foundation) Residency: “the Woods”
Allegories of Predation & Abuse: Oil on Canvas, & Recycled Media Sculpture
2018 “Historic Medford Plein Air Show 2018”
2018 Trenton City Museum: “Ellarslie Open 35”
Dick Blick & Jack Richeson Awards for Watercolor
2018 “39th Annual Monmouth Museum Juried Art Exhibit”
2017 Monmouth Museum Watercolor Exhibition
2017 Plein Air Exhibit of the Trenton Museum at Ellarslie
2016 - Assistant to numerous artists at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City
2015 Began making Salvaged & Recycled media sculptures
2015 - 2016 Long hiatus from 2-dimensional art, due to a violent assault while painting
2012 - 2015 MFA candidate at the Graduate School of Illustration, American Academy of Art University, w/Focus on Animals & Creatures, Ink & Watercolor
2012 Returned to the US (following repeated threats)
2002 - 2012 Est. 1,000 Landscape Paintings done in rural/ remote parts of Japan
2001 Died (briefly)
As a person once entrapped in an abusive relationship, I tend to see manipulation and predatory behaviors everywhere. As a vegan, I am further bothered by society’s impetus to prey upon “the weak”: animals, nature, the poorer classes of people…
My attempts to cope with a number of terrible experiences led me to begin a series of allegorical oil paintings and recycled media compositions featuring vulnerable characters trying to escape similarly dire circumstances: - a blind horse, - a butterfly with tattered wings, - a cat on fire... The paintings have an implied narrative drawn from “a deep reservoir of assorted traumas”. They tie in with one another so that a story seems to unfold from one to the next. This is a story of consumption and abuse, without any of the blood or bruising, with “fun” & colorful terrors replacing the real world kind.
When interesting ideas appear in these paintings, I explore them in 3-dimensions with discarded media. By shining a strong light on a sculpture, I can better conceptualize how it should fit in a painting: how the light should look, how the shadows should be cast... The paintings and sculptures inform each other in this way. I’ll also “ground” the fanciful environments in a sense of reality by painting landscapes en plein air whenever possible. There are serene, scenic places & there are dark paths you take when wandering alone.
You will see it in paintings & in sculptures.
As a child, Ry An was frequently ill - passing many long days bedridden. He read books and imagined himself playing inside the illustrations on the pages to pass the time. He drew new scenes himself - specifically to have more imaginary spaces to explore later on.
Ry An died in the back of an ambulance when he was 23, claiming to have had an out of body experience in the process. He left the United States shortly after, spending the next 11 years traveling throughout Japan, painting nearly 1,000 landscapes “en plein air”. He lived there, alone, in mountainous areas with limited social interactions, no television reception or internet access. His paintings from this time period tried to draw attention to both: this sense of isolation and, “specific moments of time”.
There were earthquakes, landslides, large flea-ridden rats, systemic racism… His apartment was robbed by the Chinese Mafia. He was briefly the "mascot" for a local Yakuza boss. He caught on fire in an unheated apartment. He was hit by cars while cycling - five times, including one bout with amnesia. Soon after he reluctantly agreed to marry his former Japanese teacher, she became verbally, and physically, and dangerously abusive. He painted landscapes outdoors as much as he could but, ultimately, decided to leave Japan when she repeatedly threatened to/ attempted to murder him.
He returned to the United States in 2012 to escape his ex-wife’s escalating abuses, and to work on a MFA in Illustration, hoping to add a more explicitly narrative element to his art. He then spent 10-12 hours a day, over the following 3 years, drawing pictures at a desk in near solitude.
In 2014, he met a woman whom he fell fabulously in love with, but she also had an abusive ex. One night, while Ry An was working on an illustration assignment in his own home, she was nearly murdered in hers: ”blood and broken glass on everything!” She seemed to go insane and vanished soon after.
Ry An had been performing in the top 25% of his MFA classes, but struggled to complete the next two semesters – associating illustrations and narrative art, circumstantially, with the: bloodshed, and the loss of a loved one he had witnessed. After several months of producing no work at all, he learned to make sculptures out of household materials, these being far enough removed from two dimensional art to not trigger the same psychological stresses. They began as whimsical animals, similar to characters from his earlier illustrations, but shifted to more “dangerous” things:
“So I make monsters. Not real world monsters. Not the ones with human faces that kill what you love devoutly… but scaley, winged, blue and green things, with tentacles and tongues as long as their bodies… devils that don’t spill and splatter real people’s blood on the floors, up the walls, and all over the pavement outside where any passersby will see. ‘Fun monsters’, safely contained in paper and paint.”
Ry An began painting again after several years. He is currently working on a series of dreamlike paintings that tie in with his sculptures, showcasing vulnerable characters as they travel deeper and deeper into a dangerous dark forest.