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.”

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