The Golden Age of Outer Space

Detail from Liam Ryan's The Golden Age of Outer Space

It is hard to believe a collection of art works resembling great galactic rock pools could have landed in leafy Victoria Park Village. But an exhibition of contemporary paintings at the Residence gallery this month proves this is the case.

Protovision, a solo show by the Irish-born, London-based artist Liam Ryan, is about pursuing limits whilst taking pleasure in the elemental and natural world. He explains: “I started this series on an island in Scotland, it was beautiful. There was no road and no light pollution. The use of gold and silver reflect my awareness of the sun, moon, stars and how the earth can glow.”

The exhibition is small but absorbing and with a large scope. The myth of Medusa and crystal coloured Cornish rock pools first catches my eye. Gallery director Ingrid Zeltins described the paintings as “cosmic soup”.

Ryan’s earlier work seems more primitive, more akin to David Lynch story board, whilst his newer pallet of swirling, spinning colours shifts us out of Hackney and into another universe, layers forming upon layers that are thick and metallic.

He describes it as: “The way the primer dries with subtle differences in shades and texture are the first clue and the pictures sort of grow from there.”

A mode of performative speech, on first glance Ryan’s atomist paintings appear to have no preconceived basis to them, as he experiments with his own mistakes and artistic triumphs.

Servant of the Moon particularly resonates. “It was based on an old photo of an actress, but the painting got a life of its own while I was painting and there is nothing, even in the gesture, which would resemble the photograph,” Ryan says.

Taking time to get to grips with Ryan’s surrealist tendencies on a still, silent segment of your Saturday is time well spent, particularly as you are practically guaranteed to come away with different interpretations. It’s an invitation to let your own imagination loose.

Residence Gallery
229 Victoria Park Road, E9 7HD
Until May 18 2013 

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