October 18, 2010

Cordy Ryman's itchy tactility and openendedness

Cordy Ryman, "Dudley!" 2010, acrylic & enamel on wood, 19 x 17 x 1 ¾”

Cordy Ryman, "Waiting for Christopher," 2010, acrylic & enamel on wood, screws - 23 pieces, dimensions variable: 87 x 6 1/4 x 2 3/4" as installed w/ 17 pieces

 Cordy Ryman, installation view.

In the summer issue of Bomb, painter/critic Stephen Westfall wrote about Cordy Ryman, who has an excellent  show on display at DCKT through October 31. Rich in process, improvisation, and materiality, Ryman's work reminds me of the slapdash projects (short on craft, long on duct tape) my father Dudley used to put together in the basement when I was a kid. I was surprised, then, that one of Ryman's pieces is actually called "Dudley!' Weird coincidence, right?

"A typical Cordy Ryman lies in a hybridized zone between sculpture and painting; pieces of wood or perhaps canvas may be isolated like small geometric paintings or even extended into the full expanse of the rooms in which they are installed, following a kind of modular accumulation strategy," Westfall writes. " His sense of geometry and architecture is imbued with itchy tactility and openendedness.... Every shift in material, color, and scale is considered in Ryman’s art, even as the 'found' nature of some of the support materials imposes a lively raggedness where a more polished finish might kill a piece. What exactly would die? I think it would be his sense of spontaneity, wherein viewers can imagine that they are somehow inside Ryman’s thinking process and that they too could make art like this if they could work up the nerve (most won’t)...

"Ryman’s art is less elegant than that of Richard Tuttle, Polly Apfelbaum [at D"Amelio Terras through the 23rd], or Siobhan Liddell, artists to whom he’s earning the right to be compared. It’s a thicker, somewhat more dangerous world he’s negotiating. Gedi Sibony is a closer peer comparison, but Ryman is still rougher around the edges and makes greater use of color. Paul Thek [at Alexander and  Bonin through November 27] comes to mind as a possible avatar and prophet, not for Ryman specifically, but for an expanded sense of formalism that allows for a range of unanticipated temperaments, sometimes prickly and sometimes uncertain. Like Thek, Ryman’s is a post-Minimalism that pushes the unifying verities of Minimalism into the deep background. In the foreground is an artist figuring things out with materials that talk back. It’s a comic performance: of the fragile, articulated gesture that can take over or energize a room."

"Cordy Ryman," DCKT Contemporary, New York, NY. Through October 31.

Related post:
Ryman rejects his tidy inheritance
Selected paintings from Scope, Aqua, Pierogi, and Pulse



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