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Anne Ryan: Fighting on the Dance Floor

A solo exhi­bi­tion of new work by Anne Ryan, who is renowned for her vibrant, three-dimen­sion­al paint­ings made from card, col­lage, can­vas, ceram­ic and

Intensely coloured, densely layered and full of movement, London-based, Irish artist Anne Ryan’s paintings extend from more conventional canvases, to works on card that are sliced and folded into freestanding ‘cutouts’, and into works made in ceramic, concrete or metal. They draw on her love of music and movies and combine observations from daily life with references to literature, mythology, classical painting and sculpture.

Fighting on the Dance Floor includes a new series of canvases that feature a montaged, multi-perspective layout, with deconstructed, collaged surfaces and fractured imagery. They depict figures in various poses and actions, overlapping and merging. There are glimpses of narrative, the suggestion of dancing, diving, fighting, or of musicians rocking out. Despite the absence of literal dance floors visible in the work on show, there is an element that reflects that moment when things are poised on a knife edge, the feel of danger and excitement – before all hell breaks loose.

For Ryan, the exhibition’s title evokes fragments of music important from her own past – the line from The Specials’ Ghost Town (1981) or the “sailors fighting in the dance hall” of David Bowie’s Life on Mars (1971) – that focus on the moment when violence breaks out and spoils the party.

“Ghost Town could be written about today, the UK state of Emergency, people pushed to the edge in dying towns, a gloomy echo of the early Thatcher years…”

As with her previous Maenads cutouts, which used imagery of bacchanalian women celebrating like crazy, very sensually, often intoxicated or just high on partying, the figures in these new works also focus on women setting themselves free, letting go. The artist wants viewers to see a manifesto of feminine resistance to authority in the works, suggesting an alternative reading of the title where, perhaps, the fight on the dance floor is the dancing itself.
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Painting Sculpture