\Opening: 2018.3.23  4-6pm
Duration: 2018.3.24-5.27, 10am-6pm (Closed on Mondays)
Venue:    Cc Foundation & Art Centre
Add:       Room 101, Bldg 15, M50 Art Industrial Park, 50 Moganshan Road, Putuo District, Shanghai

For Kathleen Ryan, sculpture is a matter of balance. With each work, the artist brings lightness in tension with heaviness, the wild with the restrained, the natural with the processed. In Man Made Moon, the artist’s first solo exhibition in China, an arrangement of three sculptures, titled Frequency, Cool Breeze, and Bacchante, emphasizes Ryan’s ongoing interest in exploring the sculptural possibilities of materials like stone, iron, concrete, and clay. Drawing symbolic resonances from ancient Roman mythology, 1980s broadcasting technology, and the flora of Southern California, Ryan’s work is insistent on its physicality yet ultimately tied to the intangible weight of time and memory.
In the sculpture Frequency, drippy, grotesque ceramic bird forms congregate on a large satellite dish. Synchronously drawn into and projecting out from a central focal point, they emanate a fluidity that seems electrically charged. Though they can still be found in use, this kind of satellite dish is largely outmoded and evokes obsolete broadcasting technology. The dish here carries the upwardness of satellite telecommunications, and yet it is paired with forms that drip downward under the weight of gravity. The birds are clustered densely and seem frozen in time. Each shows the small and intimate human touch of individual fingerprints, yet as a whole the flock consumes the breadth of the satellite receiver, opening the work to an atmospheric scale.
Accompanying the satellite dish is Cool Breeze, a work cast in brittle iron that depicts a wispy leaf from a palm tree morphing into a heavy-duty eyebolt from which it hangs. Both rigid and organic, heavy and light, the work plays with the association of palm trees and leisure, challenging any sense of tropical respite with an industrial sharpness tinged with danger.
Last is the sculpture Bacchante, a cluster of ripe concrete grapes lying outspread, chained together atop a wine-colored marble cube in a state of languished repose. Cast in solid concrete from inflated party balloons, each grape looks as though it is about to burst with weight and pressure, suggesting an imminent bodily and sexual eruption. Concrete, the hero of modern architecture and city planning, is a symbol of affordability, efficiency, and even a kind of socially minded ethics. Ryan transforms the hard, sober material into an expression of sensuousness. By invoking the title Bacchante, a devotee of the Roman god Bacchus, Ryan nods toward the Western art historical trope of the female bacchanalian representing uncontrolled desire and hedonistic revelry. Made of balls and chains, Ryan’s Bacchante is both buoyant and restrained.
By moving around Ryan’s sculptures, sensing their weights and orientations, and by measuring oneself against their densities, the viewer can gain a new sense of how materials, whether handmade, industrial, or somewhere in between, encode a sense of historical or functional familiarity while also becoming unfixed, abstracted, and strange. In finding these balances in her objects, Ryan seeks a synthesis that goes beyond dualistic categories. Her goal, as she puts it, is to find an oscillation that is “different and non-binary, something that ultimately vibrates, that communicates, is charged, and can be felt."