Kayne Griffin Corcoran is pleased to present Wind(shield), a new body of work by Liza Ryan. Suggesting at once landscapes and crash scenes, moments of quietness and violent impact, these works present an important culmination of long-running themes in Ryan’s work.
Ryan’s images are the visualization of an ongoing exploration of the idea of separation. Looking closely at boundaries such as skin, the walls of a house, or the cars that separate us from the world we speed past, she examines the fluidity of opposing concepts such as interior and exterior that we often take for granted. Her intellectual questioning of the soundness of these barriers manifests visually in Ryan’s photographs. How permeable is the skin, how insecure are the structures we live in, how protective is the windshield? Ryan is not looking for security in answering these questions, but instead examines a certain relief that arises from blurring boundaries.
In the Wind(shield) series, images of wrecked and abandoned cars show protective barriers to be fragile in their very nature. Not until there is a crack in the windshield do we notice its vulnerability. Questioning our illusions of safety, Ryan’s ‘shields’ become reflective and permeable façades. For example, in Wind(shield) hail, a vivid reflection of the sky positioned over a web of jagged cracks caused by hail transforms the windshield into a surreal landscape. In Clover, plants are literally growing into the car, poised to take it over.
Similar themes have appeared in Ryan’s earlier work in which bodily boundaries are breached, meditating on occurrences of metamorphosis between human and nature. While in the past Ryan has used the human form to explore the unreliability of the skin as separator, in these new photographs the human presence is only implied: an exploded airbag, a discarded scarf, an effaced silhouette. Many of the images also obliquely reference landscape. Formally echoing the planes of land, sea, or sky, Ryan acknowledges the broader context within which she photographs ‘nature’ and its shifting margins. This hybridization has long been part of Ryan’s process of working with photographic imagery, through cutting and collaging pieces of her photographs or drawing directly onto them. In the Wind(shield) series, the collaging occurs in camera as she combines reflections and fragments within the composition of each frame. The multiple layers in these new works produce a unique sensation of glimpsing past, present, and future at once—blurring time as well.
Liza Ryan’s work has been exhibited at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Miami Art Museum. She was one of three American artists included in the Biennale of Sydney in 2006. Ryan’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. A forthcoming publication of her mid-career work will be available at the end of 2016.