Opening reception: Saturday 9 April, 17.00 – 19.30 hrs.
Youth, liberation and the joy of losing yourself in the moment are elements that feature throughout Ryan McGinley’s work, from his early roots in documenting the urban adventures of his downtown Manhattan friends to his subsequent cross-country travels in utopian environments throughout America to his most recent studio portraits. McGinley’s elaborate and rigorous process of photo-making creates moments of breathtaking beauty: naked feral kids poised in ecstatic abandon. The lack of clothing and other contemporary signifiers along with the archetypical landscapes give the photos a sense of timelessness in which the viewer can project his or her own story.
Over the years McGinley’s work has evolved from documenting reality toward creating settings where the situations are choreographed. The process of carefully staging and directing ‘happenings’, often in beautiful rural landscapes, is increasingly more cinematic in tone, while retaining the spontaneity of his early work. This particular series is perhaps the most cinematic yet. The photos have developed a surreal, action-film quality—people ricocheting through unknown spaces, a couple starting up at an apocalyptic sky, figures falling from trees in wet darkness. They’re dramatic and moody, full of storms and rushing rivers and night skies.
In yet another departure, McGinley has incorporated black-and-white and color studio portraits of nudes and animals interacting in sometimes sweet, sometimes surprising ways. The use of animals is another facet of McGinley’s exploration of the natural world. They bring out the animalistic qualities of the nude figure, and the scratches on the bodies signify our desire to commune with nature and the excitement and risks inherent therein.
McGinley’s photographs are included in the collections of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., and many others. The 33 year-old artist has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of Art and at PS1 in New York, at the MUSAC in Spain, and at the Kunsthalle Vienna. Last year McGinley had solo gallery shows in San Francisco, New York and Athens.