For her epic new installation created for Dilston Gallery’s vast concrete hall, London-based Irish artist Anne Ryan captures the sprawling dynamism of the city and its communities. Through her vibrant ceramic and cement sculptures, paintings and three-dimensional cutouts, Ryan’s observations, speculations and dreams of the city collide.

Part of Ryan’s starting point for her work comes from the slow city walks she takes around London, which she describes as saunters (from the French sans terre, meaning ‘without land’).

“Walking allows the city to open up with possibilities – dreamscapes, fictional spaces, historical sites. A saunter is different from a commute or a journey with purpose, far more playful and open-ended.” Anne Ryan, 2021.

The installation presents the city as a constellation, where memories and stories are overlaid with the past and present. Emerging from the earth, crumbling concrete is bolstered with jewelled ceramic glaze, whilst towering cut-out paintings rise skywards, aflame.

Scenarios imagined and people remembered have been riotously constructed via glimpses through backlit windows and observations painted in motion. Dog walkers, boxers, musicians and horses throng and buzz amongst the architecture and debris of the city. Reimagined ruins, fragmented Roman frescoes, bridges and citadels rise up, creating an imagined, atemporal city panorama.

The fantastical sculptures, reminiscent of the Renaissance painting style Capriccio*, capture the relentless persistence of the past and loss, where ancient and classical ruins confront the skylines, windows and streets of the contemporary city.

Observational and humorous texts by Irish writers including Flann O’ Brien and Samuel Beckett have been influential reference points for Anne whilst making this new body of work. The frenetic rhythm and pace of Ryan’s compositions emit the 24/7 hustle, energy and noise of the city. Anne invites you to get up close, get amongst the thick of it and inhabit her London.

*Capriccios //  In Italian, capriccio means that which is capricious, whimsical or fantastic. In relation to painting the term is usually used to describe imaginary topographical scenes…architectural elements, drawn from actual sites, are recombined in inventive relationships for decorative effects. (Ref: National Gallery Paintings Glossary Online). 

Events //

Anne Ryan in Conversation with Charlotte Higgins //
4th September 3-4pm

Join Anne in conversation about her work with author and journalist Charlotte Higgins.

Listen to the recording online

Further Listening //

Hear Anne Ryan’s own studio playlist on Spotify. Make sure to turn it up loud! – featuring Bikini Kill, The Runaways and X-Ray Spex.

Listen to our Lockdown Elevenses Podcast recorded with Anne and Gallery Manager John Harris in 2020 where they discuss Anne’s practice, studio listening, an artist priest, mosh pits and walks in the city.

The exhibition is generously supported by Arts Council England, The Paul and Louise Cooke Endowment and Southwark Council.

About Anne Ryan  

Anne Ryan is a contemporary artist who creates figurative paintings and sculptures drawing on observations from everyday life. Charged with energy and attitude, her colourful works are always in motion – they dance, writhe, and mosh. Ryan loves music, the movies and mythologies, and these cultural references fuel her work. Born in Limerick, Ireland in 1964, Ryan lives and works in London and Kent. She studied at Limerick School of Art and Birmingham University and was Abbey Fellow in Painting at the British School at Rome in 2016. Solo exhibitions include Earthly Delites, Hastings Contemporary, 2020; Euoī, Euoī, Euoī, Ribot Gallery, Milan, 2019; A Barbarian at the Gate, greengrassi, London, 2017 and The Cowboy Paintings, Turps Gallery, London, 2017. She will be exhibiting at Turner Contemporary, Margate, in November 2021. She is represented by greengrassi, London.

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