Selected works by Ryan Mosley

Ryan Mosley
Emperor Butterfly

2007

Oil on linen

160 x 180 cm

Motivated by a sense of the carnivalesque, Ryan Mosley’s canvases offer up a surreal world of invented characters and rituals that are simultaneously archaic and futuristic. Mosley develops his theatrical subjects through a spontaneous approach to painting. “They appear on the canvas,” Mosley explains, “worked, reworked, painted over, feeding on mistakes. They exude the feeling that the characters are having a conversation, or are on stage during a performance. The process is quite organic: sometimes it starts with an idea for narrative, then sometimes, according to the process of the painting, the narrative arrives.” In Emperor Butterfly this layering of drawing with a paint brush and painterly gestures resolves as a figure with multiple limbs. “It’s like a pseudo religious character or a mythic anthropomorphic figure,” Mosley describes, “like a butterfly, or chrysalis transforming. The butterfly motif is also like an authoritative stamp.”

Ryan Mosley
Piano Tuners

2011

Oil on canvas

220 x 190 cm
Ryan Mosley
Empress Butterfly

2007

Oil on linen

200 x 180 cm

Empress Butterfly was conceived as a partner painting to Emperor Butterfly, though Mosley doesn’t think of his figures as clearly gendered: “When painting things such as masquerade or carnival, it’s hard to get away from ideas of transvesticism. I paint women with the same measurements as the men. I can’t justify painting beautiful ladies when the men are so buffoon-like, so I treat them all as equals. Empress Butterfly is an attempt to paint movement; I ended up with this character. All the weight is on one knuckle as if the foetal figure is a chrysalis in transformation. I’m interested in the camouflage pattern, like the eye motif on peacocks that are used for protection. In these two paintings the eyes are like a porthole into something else; stage paint or something like camouflage – a painting of a painting in a painting.”

Ryan Mosley
George And The Dragon

2007

Oil on linen

160 x 180 cm

When Mosley was studying art he worked as a security guard at The National Gallery; his days spent surrounded by the works of old masters became a key inspiration for his practice. “I like the fact that passages in art history can sometimes fool you. Characters become almost timeless, like looking at painting from the 13th century which could have been painted yesterday,” Mosley says. “George and The Dragon is based on a Bermejo painting. I guess the artist didn’t know what he was dealing with first hand, in the way of visualising part of the subject? So he alludes to an idea of what might look like a rendition of evil, a dragon, demon, Lucifer. Our idea of a modern dragon might be like that on the Welsh flag, but it could be something else. My George And The Dragon could be more akin to a pub sign of the same name. I like these different historical readings, and use my own narratives in paintings. The diamond formation in the costumes used to be called the ‘devil’s cloth’; if you were slightly kooky or a bit crazy you’d wear this. We now associate this with a harlequin or court jester; it’s like a uniform for the mentally ill.”

Ryan Mosley
Sirens

2008

Oil on canvas

190 x 170 cm

“They’re like giant watercolours,” Mosley says of his works. “I build them up through translucent thin washes; painting one colour over the top of another might suggest something - for example cadmium orange over yellow suggests gold. They’re quite gestural, they look like batik or dyed canvas. The surfaces are ‘slippery’, they have an oily seductive quality – the brush just glides over it. Sirens comes from Greek myth, and I was interested in 19th-century paintings of far-flung Greek narratives that were done in a very British way. The characters look quite mechanical like Automatons but perhaps are also able to hold an interesting conversation, so they can suggest something else, especially the costumes: a rahrah skirt, Danish milkmaid’s outfit, devil’s cloth. It’s both frightening and enchanting.”

Ryan Mosley
Limb Dance

2008

Oil on canvas

160 x 180 cm

Mosley describes Limb Dance as: “like medieval wall painting, the parameter around it is like Rousseau-esque botanical bunting. It’s celebratory and slightly awkward. The Pinocchio character came around the time of the Butterfly series, it’s something evolving: it started off as a figure I painted out, all that was left was a knee on top of a shin which became a head, it was like a spare part of a painting.” In this scene, both of the characters are holding limbs, which could read as processional sceptres, clubs or effigies. Mosley explains the appended body parts: “They’re like helpers or look outs, not offspring, but a recurring genetic trait. They feel like surrogate children. I was thinking about Ruben’s Massacre Of The Innocents – how do you paint the brutality of anatomy just being thrown about?”

Ryan Mosley
Tag Team

2008

Oil on canvas

215 x 275 cm

“Tag Team is more to do with modernity,” says Mosley, “possibly more accessible in iconography. There’s a bearded vanitas on top of a cowboy boot (shades of Clint Eastwood), an afro motif (20th-century disco), a ballerina outfit, and oriental moustache; a cobra with a portrait-cum-camouflage on the back of his head and a guy jumping out of a gramophone: all the makings of a provincial play. There used to be a milkman in the north of England who told me various stories about his clients, some were full-time miners and Wrestlers. He told a fantastic story, about the diets of the wrestling giants, like Big Daddy and King Kong Kirk, TV idols I grew up watching in the 80s. Modern American wrestling is very Hollywood and proscribed in comparison, but then UK wrestling was almost a part-timers’ event in the ways of diet and training – these characters were real ardent professional amateurs compared to modern wrestlers and were happy to stay on the provincial stage. It’s about layman being fantastical. It reminds me of Jonathan Jones saying something about the characters that imagine a balletic Wild West as if painted by Watteau.”

Ryan Mosley
Heavy Bouquet

2011

Oil on linen

220 x 190 cm
Ryan Mosley
A Bar in France

2011

Oil on linen

220 x 190 cm

Other Resources

artfacts.net
Additional images and information – Ryan Mosley

alisonjacquesgallery.com
Additional press/articles- Ryan Mosley

eigen-art.com
Representative Gallery- Galerie Eigen+Art

engholmengelhorn.com
Selected images and information about Mosley's solo show "Census" at Galerie Engholm Engelhorn, Vienna

alisonjacquesgallery.com
Representing gallery, London

guardian.co.uk
I like the paintings of Ryan Mosley, currently showing at London's Alison Jacques Gallery, for their marriage of grit and fantasy. Tough, hard-thought, intelligent textures – real painting, in other words – create realms of wilful play. Is it whimsy or is it tragedy? I'm not sure. The ambiguity interests me.

news.independent.co.uk
Ryan Mosley - Four figurative works proved so popular that all were sold within hours to collectors. All the works are informed by portraiture and derived from a mixture of art history, mythology and folk culture, united by a carnival theme. The degree show work has been selected for the Celeste Art Prize. Last year, Mosely won the Jerwood Prize in the travel scholarship show.

saudadeexhibition.co.uk
Exhibition at the Highbury Studios 16 Nov – 3 Dec 2007

celesteartprize.co.uk
The Celeste Art Prize of which Ryan Mosley was a finalist in 2007.

cell.org.uk
Information on Mosley's participation in group show "Wassail"

axisweb.org
Ryan Mosley's large-scale paintings are at once innocent and disturbing, seductive and repulsive. The three figures in 'Peace Makers' (2007) are strangely familiar. The trio recalls the scene from The Wizard of Oz (1939) in which Dorothy, the rusty tin man and the goofy lion scoop down the yellow brick road. Generous brush strokes delineate the abstract contours of the figures, which appear almost ghost-like on the white thin washes reminiscent of Luc Tymans.

roslarts.co.uk
Artists which have won the Royal Overseas League International scholarship including Ryan Mosley.