Paul Ryan

The Colonies

26 October — 11 November 2017

1964, Auckland
Lives and works in Thirroul, NSW

View profile

The work of Paul Ryan has loomed large in Australian painting over the last decade.

He is a thirteen-time finalist in the Archibald Prize, a six-time Wynne Prize finalist and he holds an impressive list of curatorial accolades. His beloved vision of the rugged coastline of Thirroul, south of Sydney, where pacific breakers meet the monolithic escarpment—is the stage from which he plays out his visual commentary on Australian history. Rendered in swathes of viscous oil paint, it is work that has become synonymous with the best of expressive contemporary Australian painting.

Ryan places us in the seascape/landscape, the beauty of a sun-drenched day—the moments of trepidation as the storm approaches from the inky Pacific Ocean.  We are involved in this place; it is not a passive experience to look at his work. Structured formal composition collides with organised accidents of painting fate.  Ryan is an artist who knows his practice and who restlessly pushes at its boundaries—never afraid to toy with the accepted norms of how a painting is made. It comes as no surprise that he is a man with no fear of addressing the ideology of the past. He stirs and pushes at the establishment and established social taboos —no matter how old or recent they may have been adopted as acceptable.

The artist’s wit and strident intent to subvert and create a dialogue has come to the fore in this exhibition. Ryan’s recontextualisation of 'the colonial' and 'the kitsch' is potent in its intent. The artist points us to the absurdity of the assumptions of colonisation and how they have been woven into the fabric of our nation.  This is not an apologist agenda by the artist. Ryan does not seek to undo our society, rather he brings to the surface some of the uncomfortable moments in our shared black/white history.

At the core of Ryan’s discourse is the politics of imagery that is inherent in empire or nation building. His commentary and use of 'the old' is, at this time in our history, prophetic, as we face a fervent nationalist agenda in a post-colonial world. Ryan draws our attention through his work to the short-sighted ideology that has the potential to cast us back to a time of segregation, isolation and, indeed, cultural annihilation. Yet, like a firm massage of the senses, we enjoy the experience and are better for it!  

Ralph Hobbs
October, 2017

View video "Wild Colonial Boy"—Paul Ryan talks through his processes and themes, questions the colonial perception of the savage and the civilised, and reflects on his own identity. Filmed by Sean O'Brien in 2014

Paul Ryan - Wild Colonial Boy from Sean O'Brien on Vimeo.

\ Exhibition featured works

Paul Ryan

Aliens 1

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 51x95cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Aliens 2

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 51x95cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Alpine Hunt

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 64x82cm

Paul Ryan

Arrival

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 200x350cm

Paul Ryan

Arrival Green Wave

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 138x138cm

Paul Ryan

Arrival Pink Sky

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 200x245cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Bad Lieutenant

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 122x112cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Blue Boy, Bali

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 56x69cm

Paul Ryan

Blue Mountains Hunt

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 29x68cm

Paul Ryan

Colonial Girl, Blue and White

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 138x122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Cook and Boxers

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 138x123cm

Paul Ryan

Cook and Doberman

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 138x123cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Full Moon Colonial

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 66x94cm

Paul Ryan

Hound

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 52x52cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Pink Pantaloons

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 138x122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Pink Ribbon

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 138x122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Red Coat and Hound

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 138x122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The Colonies, Blue Boy

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 153x153cm

Paul Ryan

The Colonies, Pink Girl

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 153x153cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The Hunt, Bulli

2017 \ Oil on linen \ 122x122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The Hunt, Clifton

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 49x75cm

Paul Ryan

The Hunt, Fireplace

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 49x79cm

Paul Ryan

The Hunt, Green Jacket

2018 \ Oil on found object \ 49x59cm

Paul Ryan

Two cooks, four hounds

2017 \ Oil on linen (diptych) \ 138x244cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Winter in the Colonies

2017 \ Oil on found object \ 65x95cm

Paul Ryan

\ Install image

Paul Ryan

\ Install image

Paul Ryan

\ Install image

Paul Ryan

\ Install image

\ Other exhibitions

Matthew Quick

Bling

16 November — 2 December 2017

Many Hands, Home of the Namatjira Artists

Group Exhibition

10 October — 20 October 2017

Anthony Lister

Homeless Among the Gum Trees

13 September — 6 October 2017

Contact Us

to find out more about The Colonies.

12 - 14 Meagher Street Chippendale, NSW 2000
Opening Hours
9am - 5pm Monday to Friday 11am - 4pm Saturday