Kathleen Ryan at Karma
Assertive in their materiality, Ryan’s sculptures tackle formal concerns such as volume,
weight, surface, and balance. Utilizing a diverse range of mediums—including marble, glazed ceramic, concrete, and found objects such as bowling balls or an Airstream
trailer—she creates oversized models of commonplace goods, defamiliarizing basic commodities. Taking the form of vintage decorative crafts that have been blown up to an imposing scale, her Bad Fruit series employs material irony and art historical tropes to play with expectation and desire; Ryan fashions decaying fruit from glittering beads, gemstones, and found items, illustrating her fascination with “how objects bring meaning and carry a history.”
The sculptures embody contradictions: the illusory weightlessness of their heavy forms; the insinuations of both kitsch and refinement; the negotiation between allegorical, historical musings and the stoic present. Subverting expectations of value, synthetic acrylic and glass beads simulate glistening flesh, while clusters of semiprecious stones play the role of pathogens such as penicillium digitatum. The exhibition presents Ryan’s fruits alongside other large-scale models of evanescent vegetation, and ignites a sense of disorientation and mythic wonder through its materiality, scale, and evocative power.
With painstaking technique, painterly sensitivity to color, and a biting sense of humor, Ryan’s Bad Fruit suggests art’s capacity to both evoke and arrest the passage of time.