Ryan Steadman has been painting abstractions based on books ranging from rare Bauhaus designs to New Wave-inspired publications from the 1908s. He’s bringing his modest, life-sized work to Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton on Saturday, May 19 in an exhibition entitled Necromancer.
When asked why he chose to entitle his exhibition Necromancer, Steadman remarked: “I was thinking about loving these dead mediums, and it’s a word that literally means ‘medium’ or one who is able to speak to the dead. In that sense, I do feel like I’m trying to translate these art forms to people.”
Steadman uses a wide variety of painting techniques in order to jolt the viewers out of purely recognizing the subject. He is inspired by both Claes Oldenburg’s early reimagining of familiar objects, as well as by the minimalist gestures of colorists like John McLaughlin and Blinky Palermo. Steadman creates abstract images and a representational object-in-the-round with paint. By doing so, the artist not only riffs on different eras of design via organic curves and geometric forms, but he also references the accidental jagged rips and blobby stains of these aged and worn items.
“Every creative person, whether they use words or images, is telling a story,” said Steadman. “Both paintings and books exist simultaneously as objects and ideas. In the book’s case, the meaning is conveyed through written language while the painting is contextualized by a distinct visual language.”
Steadman uses the book as a symbol of painting itself; a relic in terms of transmitting language which leads one to contemplate both medias current uses and the unique features we’re losing in our more “advanced” forms of communication.
“My work revives and conflates ‘dead’ mediums and explores their relevance today. Paintings double as books with an unlimited variety of painterly techniques that also stand in for labels, design elements, pages, tears, and stains, representing evidence of both human thought and neglect,” Steadman remarked.
Necromancer will be on display through Sunday, June 24. The opening reception will take place Saturday, May 19 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Halsey McKay Gallery was founded in 2011 with the goal to bringing inspired contemporary art to East Hampton. It has presented an eclectic and experimental range of international artists and programming. The gallery represents emerging and mid-career artists and participates in art fairs. Halsey McKay Gallery is owned and directed by Ryan Wallace and is as a member of the New Art Dealer’s Alliance (NADA).
Halsey McKay Gallery is located at 79 Newtown Lane in East Hampton. For more information, call 631-604-5770.