Paul Ryan

THE ISLAND

18 October — 5 November 2022

1964, Auckland
Lives and works in Thirroul, NSW

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“Colonial art is the knack of rendering the new as old, the unknown as the known, the antipodean as European, the contemptible as the respectable.”1.

The European artists that sailed to the South Pacific in the 18th and 19th centuries were part of a migratory force that would change everything in the southern climes. They painted the original inhabitants, flora and fauna in a manner and methodology that befitted their overriding colonial societal and artistic ambitions. Science, literature, and painting morphed, creating an enlightened yet imperialist view of the new world. Exploring and recording, they would delve into the contemporary pictorial genres from the picturesque to the sublime. This was the landscape painting tradition, born from the idealised canvases of Claude Lorrain. Their painted record would provide a visual narrative that surreptitiously supported the expansion of Empire for the two centuries to come. 

Throughout history, visual propaganda in its various guises is a curious phenomenon. From religious frescos of the Renaissance to contemporary fake news, those in power have used the image to underscore power and direct public opinion. The primary objective is to ultimately skew reality—with the alternative reality portrayed, becoming a controlling force. 

Artist Paul Ryan lives and works north of Wollongong in Dharawal county. It is a dramatic place—the great Illawarra escarpment crashes into the breaking swells of the Pacific Ocean. The ever-changing light and weather patterns are apparent and integral to all who live there. It is the constant in Ryan’s oeuvre—from the tonality of his palette to the visual power of the swaths of oil that echo the power of the sea. Ryan has for decades navigated the landscape, drawing inhabitants from history and placing, or misplacing, them in his landscape. Politically charged with a wicked wit, his imaging of the sartorial elegant colonial interlopers—sardonically rendered in oil—has become a mainstay of contemporary Australian visual culture. There is, at times, a punk sensibility to this most serious of artists.

When considering the awkwardness of imaging colonial habitation, one is reminded of Benjamin Duterrau’s The Conciliation, 1840—arguably Australia’s first history painting. Almost comical in its naïve methodology, the benignly intended narrative of Christian good intention gives way to the reality of the traitorous decimation of the first Tasmanians from the wrong end of a musket. 

The echoes of the past poignantly ricochet through The Island. Ryan’s nod to Francisco Goya becomes a rich vein for the artist, and is married with a newfound fascination for the Tasmanian gothic. The relevance of the stories of the southern island subliminally manifests in the naval blue tunics of Ryan’s protagonists as they stand prone and entrenched in a new land that is being manicured and imaged in the mind’s eye of the colonising explorer naturalist. 

1.  Flanagan, Richard. Gould’s Book of Fish; A Novel in Twelve Fish. p.78

Ralph Hobbs
October 2022

\ Exhibition featured works

Paul Ryan

After an evening on the larrikan soup

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 51cm

Paul Ryan

Becalmed

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 94 x 83.5cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

COLONIAL IN GOLDEN LIGHT

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 95 x 84cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Capois death

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 51cm

Paul Ryan

Coledale convict

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 102 x 92cm

Paul Ryan

Coledale winter light

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 76 x 64cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Colonial and palms

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 122cm

Paul Ryan

Dwarf and parrot

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 51cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Escape, the island

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 92 x 82cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Fire is the illuminator

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 51cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Gold Lion

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 125.5 x 115cm

Paul Ryan

Harlequin, Coledale

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 102 x 92cm

Paul Ryan

Harlequins and colonial

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

High tide and low clouds

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 122cm

Paul Ryan

Last day on the island

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 84 x 74cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Little Austi Norfolk

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 102 x 92cm

Paul Ryan

Lost, pissed and dancing

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 51cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Mid winter Coledale

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 51cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Palm Coast Rosella

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 106 x 94cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Palm Coast Rosella, Thirroul

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 102 x 92cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Palm Coast Rosella, Wombarra

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 102 x 92cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Red and green rosella Little Austi

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 122 x 138cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Rosella and rain

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 122 x 112cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Rosella and storm

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Rosella red and green

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 102 x 92cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Strider

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Study for the Island

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 51cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Study lost colonial

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 102 x 92cm

Paul Ryan

Take me to the river

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 76 x 64cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The Golden

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 122 x 112cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The Golden study

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 76 x 64cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The giant, study

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 104.5 x 94cm

Paul Ryan

The golden hour

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 122 x 112cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The golden hour, study

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 92 x 82cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The golden with colonial

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The hunt

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 138cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The island the hunt

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 122cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The last prayer

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 138 x 122cm

Paul Ryan

The lost colonial and his lost dog

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 214 x 183cm

Paul Ryan

The new land

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 61cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The palm coast looking north

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 132 x 138cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The palm coast looking south

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 132 x 138cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The point at which the idea of remaining at 90 degrees no longer seems an option

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 84 x 72cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

The skull cracker, after Goya

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 84 x 72cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

Unmoored

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 102 x 92cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

We saw an irregular shimmer moving through that plain

2022 \ Oil on linen, framed \ 136 x 126cm

SOLD

Paul Ryan

We saw an irregular shimmer moving through that plain, grande

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 214 x 183cm

Paul Ryan

Winter colonial study

2022 \ Oil on linen \ 61 x 51cm

SOLD

\ Other exhibitions

Jason Cordero

SUPERPOSITION

29 November — 17 December 2022

Kim Leutwyler

QUEER CORPOREALITY

29 November — 17 December 2022

(POB) Peta O'Brien

A D A P T OR P E R I S H

9 November — 26 November 2022

Contact Us

to find out more about THE ISLAND.

12 - 14 Meagher Street Chippendale, NSW 2008
Opening Hours
Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm Saturday, 11am - 4pm