Ryan J. McGinness
American, born 1972
Something About the Collapse of Art & Language, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
96 x 96 inches (243.8 x 243.8 cm)
Gift of Mrs. George A. Forman, by exchange, 2013
A battleground of semantic symbolic icons at once recognizable and yet elusive, Ryan J. McGinness’s Something About the Collapse of Art & Language, 2013, is an orchestrated layering of vibrant colors, designs, and graphics. McGinness creates drawings and paintings that stem from a mental landscape inspired by his urban surroundings and street culture—particularly graffiti, pop iconography, and corporate logos. Employing a layered system of symbols and signs, his works blur the line between abstraction and representation. This fusing of genres suggests a story, yet leaves viewers to interpret the non-linear narrative for themselves. About the reading of his work, McGinness has commented, “I am interested in our need to read into and interpret—to make sense of chaos and give meaning to seemingly abstract forms. This interpretation involves an egocentric faith in the fact that there must be a meaning for us to understand. We surrender our logic to the belief that answers do indeed exist, and so, by default, we invent them. With my work, interpretations are not absolute, but guided, to allow for multiple reads. This allows the viewer to bring to the work his own history, memories, and knowledge to find a personalized meaning.” Large in scale and swathed in metallic, pearlescent, and fluorescent pigments, McGinness’s paintings evolve organically. He first makes a mark, and then another in response to the one that preceded it. By relying on intuition and responding to the materiality of the paint, his mark-making culminates in a kaleidoscopic motif of free associations that resonate within the experience of contemporary society, but also speak to the timelessness of iconographic imagery.
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