Ryan Mulford: Mastering the Art of Old and New
Illuminating how art can elevate text and image beyond their singular functions, Ryan Mulford alters the context of his appropriated imagery. Fusing vintage materials, digital technologies, and traditional mediums, Mulford’s work upholds the past while integrating contemporary technique.
Implementing a new technique he calls "hybrid media painting,” Mulford blends digital and painterly methods to achieve a final result that marries the past with the new. Exploring the visual possibilities of hybrid media painting, Mulford’s new series at JoAnne Artman Gallery investigates the concept of the past fading away, and the notion that regardless of celebrity or modern technology, everyone and everything will eventually be forgotten.
Ryan Mulford, In the Name of Peace, 2019. JoAnne Artman Gallery
Drawing from a fascination with the past, he explores an idealistic interpretation of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Evoking the dichotomy between living in the modern age and having nostalgia for a time he has only known through the lens of film and literature, Mulford’s work is designed to capture a sentimental feeling with a timeless style that transcends the drifting trends of the art world.
Ryan Mulford, Norma, 2019. JoAnne Artman Gallery
Intended to not only uphold the past, but to pay tribute to some of the key figures of the 20th century, Mulford participates in the pop art tradition of celebrity portraiture. Both embracing and critiquing the culture of celebrity worship, Mulford employs the faces of Hollywood legends such as Errol Flynn, Steve McQueen, and Marilyn Monroe as sources of imagery and reflections of changing times.
With the addition of overlaid text, Mulford pushes the phrases as another communication vehicle within the composition. Presenting onlookers with corresponding image and text, he facilitates a direct communication with the viewer. Familiar phraseology such as Casablanca’s “He’s just like any other man, only more so” and Richard Prince’s infamous statement, “I never had a penny to my name, so I changed my name,” reiterate Mulford’s notion that we live in a world oversaturated with information and pop culture.
Ryan Mulford, Only More So, 2019. JoAnne Artman Gallery
Ultimately, Ryan Mulford’s work is a mastery of the old and the new, showing both a single-mindedness of purpose and an ability to use a range of approaches in order to engage with the widest possible audience.