Alison Jacques

Ryan Mosley

15 Jul - 13 Aug 2011

© Ryan Mosley
Heavy Bouquet, 2011
Oil on linen
220 x 190 cm (86 5/8 x 74 3/4 in)
15 July - 13 August 2011

Ryan Mosley's distinctive visual language is rooted in its timeless qualities; archaic skulls, top hats and fig leaves collide with anthropomorphic limbs and futuristic, shamanic figures that create a bewildering backdrop in which anything is possible.
For this solo show Mosley has delved further into this landscape by offering his protagonists a stage on which to play out their ambiguous narratives. The world of performance he conjures allows variegated images and motifs to become characters in a stage-play realm, uprooted from specific ties of time and location and given the chance to create new meanings and narrative opportunities. Despite the undeniable presence of art historical references in Mosley's practice, the stage provides a setting free of signifiers on which seemingly disparate figures can perform. Disembodied heads floating around each periphery invite us to become part of an extended audience. Mosley's scenes are framed by botanical bunting, which morph between menacing truncheons and mysterious fauna. These devices act as figurative stand-ins and provincial props, anchoring the characters in space and preventing them from drifting away.
Mosley's canvases are infused with the ebullient energy of the theatre, carnival and cabaret, yet the artist's highly singular and distinctive visual lexicon makes possible a wider range of thematic textures and moods. Mortality and the transient nature of time are never far from the surface from his otherworldly scenarios, as the cavernous eye sockets of a colossal skull survey the action centre stage, transforming the performative narrative into a gargantuan vanitas. These paintings are not concerned with anything so clearly cut as moralising however - the macabre and joyous often sit together in curious union. Intoxication is one of these such dualities. The presence of alcohol seen in numerous early works persists in Heavy Bouquet and A Bar in France. Its inclusion can be read both in line with Hogarthian narratives and as their antidote, used to inebriate and exaggerate the psychedelic forms and figures.
It is impossible to ignore the debt Mosley pays to his predecessors; A Bar in France is unmistakably a reworking of Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergère in which the audience is enveloped into the painted space through the device of the mirror. Mosley forgoes the mirror and instead extends his saga through open-ended possibilities; allowing each spectator to be consumed by their own fiction. The characters who provide a catalyst for these fictitious ponderings are more often than not ideologies themselves. At the core of this new body of work is the organic process of painting itself, its inebriating effect, its enduring appeal and infinite possibility.
Ryan Mosley (b. 1980) trained at the University of Huddersfield and the Royal College of Art. Selected recent solo presentations include Alison Jacques Gallery, The Armory Show, New York (2011), Painting Seánce, Grand Arts, Kansas City, Missouri (2010) and Alison Jacques Gallery, London (2010); while group shows include Labor, Galerie Eigen + Art, Berlin, (2011), Make Believe, Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm (2011), Newspeak: British Art Now, The Saatchi Gallery, London, (2010) and The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2009), and Jerwood Contemporary Painters, Jerwood Space, London (2009). Mosley lives and works in London.

Tags: Ryan Mosley