Over the last decade, Ryan McGinness has created a unique body of work based on a self-created visual language of icons, abstract shapes, and color forms. An unusual marriage of abstraction and representation, McGinness's colorful paintings consist of layers of images composed into varied and often baroque compositions. He combines visions of pageantry such as fleurs-de-lis and laurel wreaths with modern symbols such as cell phones, factories, and clip-art like military symbols. Sometimes unexpected figures appear like unicorns or donkey-headed men. The images read like hieroglyphs from the digital age as the forms explore a range of contemporary and universal themes.
2005 has been a landmark year for McGinness with 20 works on paper acquired by New York's Museum of Modern Art, and a single room installation at P.S.1's "Greater New York" exhibition. His work is also currently on view in the traveling museum exhibitions, "Beautiful Losers," and "Will Boys be Boys?"
Born in Virginia Beach, VA, in 1972, McGinness studied graphic design and painting at Carnegie Mellon University while working as a curatorial assistant at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. These early experiences have relevance as McGinness's work explodes the connections between art and graphic design and connects to Warhol not only in its use of silk-screening but for its interest in pop and street culture. Nevertheless, the work is both more personal and original than these influences might suggest.
In McGinness's words: "I'm trying to communicate complex and poetic concepts with a cold, graphic, and authoritative visual vocabulary. I concentrate on shape, color, and composition within simplified picture planes. At the essence of our being are the need to know and the need to understand. Why are we here? What does this mean? I am interested in our desire to make sense of chaos and give meaning to seemingly abstract forms."
McGinness's latest works are among his most visually seductive. His first show at Danziger Projects is comprised of 5 large paintings and a group of 12 works on paper. Hung on bare white walls, the exhibition presents a unique opportunity to see McGinness's work in a minimal setting.
McGinness's exhibition at Danziger Projects coincides with the publication of "Installationview" a combination of artist's book and catalogue by Rizzoli; and "Universals" a solo exhibition of new brightly colored signage at Deitch Projects.