Monday, December 21, 2009

Tree Show by Mark Ryden By Mark Ryden - Porterhouse Fine Art Editions (2009) - Hardback - 124 pages

Absorbing Roman poet Ovids tales of transformation in Metamorphosis and adding his own dash of art historical figuration and contemporary Pop Culture, Mark Ryden broaches new terrain with The Tree Show. Arcadian Gothic might hint at the nature of this new work, and fans of Ryden will find familiar preoccupations in these new paintings, drawings and sculptures established since his first solo show in 1998 transposed to new pastures. Never reluctant to freight his work with layers of reference that range from Renaissance landscape and Neoclassic portrait painting to occultism and literature, in his latest works Ryden combines the arcane with popular cultural images as ground from which to make his carefully executed leaps into fantasy. Rydens series includes depictions of oak trees consuming children, floating tree stumps with seeing eyes, imaginary wood nymphs, and mythological characters who personify Nature herself. Ryden paints his characters with a masterful, porcelain glow reminiscent of Ingres, and renders his trees with a care that evokes Audubons botanical illustration, and has put several of his paintings in elaborately carved frames that project their narratives beyond the canvas. The Tree Show shows these paintings and sculptures alongside the fruits of Rydens research on the tree as myth, from the Buddhas Bodhi tree, to Adam and Eve, the Sephiroth of the Kabbalah and matters of ecological science. As such, it constitutes an enticing dossier on Rydens encyclopedic exploration of the subject and reproduces in its entirety this series centered around the arboreal world. $35