Glitzy Rotting Fruit and Rusted Automobiles by Kathleen Ryan Consider the Tensions of American Consumerism
March 6, 2023
In Beachcomber, artist Kathleen Ryan (previously) continues her inquiries into consumption and the unsightly remnants of American life. The solo exhibition, on view now at François Ghebaly in Los Angeles, brings together Ryan’s latest works that explore the tension between revulsion and delight, all imbued with a quintessentially California ethos.
Skewered fruits, beach umbrellas, and automotive parts exemplify this relationship between the beautiful and the grotesque through the artist’s signature gemstone treatment. Cobwebs of glimmering quartz crystal tether one side of a rusted Dodge trunk to the other, while precious materials like agate, lapis lazuli, and turquoise become the rotting patches of otherwise supple fare. Each of the sculptures references seaside objects and nostalgic coastal travel, whether through fruit garnishes as in “Deluxe” or the clam-shell folded Volkswagen trunks in “Generator VII.”
Created at life-size or larger, Ryan’s works question the rampant consumerism and a generalized sense of gluttony that pervades much of American sensibilities. She explores kitsch as it relates to class, evoking aspects of suburban life like backyard barbecues and the reverence of cars, road trips, and the wide expanses visible from open highways.
If you’re in Los Angeles, you can see Beachbomber through March 25. Otherwise, find more from Ryan on her site and Instagram.
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