Novatny's oil paintings and drawings explore the tempestuous storm-tossed seas of historical tumult, elemental battle, war and disaster. Both private and public in manner, they simultaneously reflect the full sweep and powerful grandeur of their subject matter as well as reveal the intricate rendered gradations of his stark palette, mostly comprised of rich tonal fluctuations of black, white, and quieted grays, with muted earth tones.
With an anachronistic sense of the calm before and after the storm, his figures are fragments of the past and present struggling to remain whole against the psychophysical onslaught of devouring waves in a foreboding atmospheres–all of which is surrounded by the uncertainty of the blank white void. They constantly verge on being consumed and obliterated by this environment, but we know not were they end up. His solemn portraits of human fragility at times recall the spectral disquiet and mystery of 19th century photography.Their remnant scars and malformations heighten this fragility and are evidence of the sea's paroxysms. These pictures depict a floating, gravitation-less fictive space where his subjects exist as lost, dislocated figures caught in forgotten human dramas at once distant yet universal and hauntingly familiar. They inhabit a place where fervent echoes and shadows of time resound over the immensity and vast stretches of a dark and mute sea.
Novatny was born in Wadsworth, OH in 1964. He earned his BFA at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, OH in 1987 and his MFA at the Yale University School of Art in New Haven, CT in 1990. His work has appeared widely in solo and group shows in galleries and museums from New York, New Orleans Atlanta, and Los Angeles to Berlin and Beijing. His work is in numerous museum collections including the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Knoxville Museum of Arts, and the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. He recently completed his first outdoor mural commissioned at a friend's establishment in Brooklyn. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
ADA GALLERY CONTEMPORARY FINE ART IN RICHMOND VIRGINIA PRESENTS:
ADA Gallery is proud to present Cruiselandia, a new exhibition of paintings by Ryan Browning. Like maps drawn from a remembrance of an imagined territory, Browning's work explore concepts of space, perspective, and the role images play in the construction of memory.
Magical, mysterious landscapes with elaborate cities carved into mountainsides, dark caves, and floating worlds are the locations and the characters in Browning's work. Miró-esque sculptures, rainbow colored ladders, oriental rugs, and bonfires speckle the shadowy creases and plateaus that inhabit these fantastical worlds inviting the viewer to explore.
Regarding the ideas employed within his works, Browning states: "I think about games while painting - especially games that result in stories or abstract narratives, like the role-playing experienced in Dungeons and Dragons or the symbolic movement of conquering armies in Risk. The process of painting is building up a layered surface in a game-like fashion - you’ve got some constraints, but there’s also a lot of room within the fiction of painting or gameplay to explore the unknown. Chance accidents happen, altering the gamer/painter’s stream of thought. You give names to things that are otherwise represented by abstract data, shapes, textures, or systems, and you carve your way into that world by exploring and making changes to it as needed. You get to know the territory. Once it becomes familiar, you begin to inhabit it, tell yourself stories about it.
I’ve been living in Doha, Qatar for the past year, and some of my latest work is derived from/influenced by a couple games of chance I designed to simulate the visual confluence of architecture, fashion, and design that’s so striking here. The entire city is being built and rebuilt within the short span of thirty or so years, and it’s inhabited by expats from around the globe who’ve come to participate in that buildup. Aside from the Qataris themselves, nothing seems standard, and nothing seems permanent. Everything evolves so rapidly that the half-controlled, half-organic growth of the city, its population, and culture, seems like a simulation in and of itself."
Browning earned a BA from Brighman Young University and an MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at MICA in Baltimore, MD. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States, most recently at Mulherin + Pollard Projects in NYC and at UNTITLED Miami with ADA Gallery (2013); and solo and group shows at the Creative Alliance (2012) and School 33 Art Center (2011) in Baltimore, MD; his work has been featured in print in New American Paintings (2011, 2013), and he has participated in residencies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (2011) and Harold Arts, OH (2010). he currently teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar in Doha, Qatar.