Ryan Mutter was born in 1978.He studied at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA 1996-2001), initially enrolling in Architecture for one year, before deciding to pursue his dream by transferring to Fine Art and Visual communication in his second year.
Ryan remembers visiting the Art School (GSA) as a very young boy. His father was a mature student (printmaking) at GSA just as the New Glasgow Boys were gaining recognition and the era of figurative narrative influence was being ushered in.
Mutter turned to full time painting in 2005. From that point, he has built up a reputation as a powerful contemporary painter of industrial and maritime subjects. He developed an interest in the shipbuilding industry as a young boy, when he went to visit his fathers family in Clydebank. This was a period when the world famous shipyard, John Brown and Company (Clydebank) was in decline and he would listen to many stories about the impact of that decline on the lives of the local Clydebank community.
Mutter has gained his inspiration from Glasgow’s proud shipbuilding heritage. He wants to remind people of that period of history and he now trawls through old images of the shipyards, picking out characters who might otherwise fall into obscurity and, by making them his subjects, he brings them back to life, giving the characters he selects a new potential place in history.
Inspired by the important observational records/paintings by such artists as Sir Muirhead Bone (1876-1953) and Sir Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956), whose subject material was the Great Wars and the shipyards, Mutter favours the powerful combination of contrast and cohesion that sepia (monochromatic) tones affords. Like many of the works of the great Rembrandt, he is interested in the underpainting stage, explaining that in his view ‘many of the initial marks that you make are the most interesting ones -that is where most of the expression is. Furthering layering can destroy the effect.’
The singlemindedness of Mutter’s approach is extremely impressive – it has stirred him to create his own powerful and unique genre of ‘gritty’ and ‘grainy’ painting. His resulting paintings are both dramatic and engaging. The viewer is pulled into his message or narrative, intrigued and probably asking obvious questions like, who is the person, I wonder what their life was like and what it was like for them working in the shipyards.
Mutter always remembers the observation by a former shipyard worker that these places were not pleasant, the atmosphere was invariably grey, damp and dark, but the workers were carried by the Glasgow banter and humour, the sense of community and the pride and a feeling of achievement when the great boats of the Clyde were finally completed and launched.