New York-based artist Kathleen Ryan has gained much attention in the art world over the last few years with her ongoing series of sculptures featuring moldy fruits. Starting out with a foam base, Ryan begins to paint the foam to layout the placement of colors. Then going back to the work to meticulously place various types of precious and semi-precious stones such as opals, malachite, and smoky quartz. Together these stones create the look of the mold onto each sculpture. While depicting something so nasty in such a beautiful manner. Her most recent works being shown at the online group show at KARMA.
“The conceptual operation of these sculptures is deceptively simple. Ryan’s fading fruit evokes the tradition of European vanitas painting and its representational systems that relied so much on a purportedly shared lexicon of culture, economy, and human nature. I am one of those art history students of a certain age whose worldview was vastly enlarged when I learned, courtesy of Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait (1434), that oranges symbolized vitality and wealth in 15th century Holland. There it was: wealth, privilege, gender roles, all in an arrangement of oranges. At the other end of this timeline—now—lemons and cherries are oft-used emojis representing sour and/or sexually suggestive sentiments. In other words, what Ryan attempts in this body of work isn’t simple by half. Fruit represents. A lemon might symbolize longevity, friendship, purity, bitterness, disappointment—or a persistently defective car. The dark red flesh and juice of a cherry symbolize sex and virginity; in Japanese culture, it is the warrior’s blood and self-sacrifice. In Christianity, cherries represent, in the hands of baby Jesus, paradise.” —excerpt from Jenelle Porter, “Kathleen Ryan: Rot”
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