TODD RYAN WHITE | RAINBOW EATER
November 29, 2019–January 25, 2020
Friday, November 29, 5–8pm
Friday, December 20, 6pm
Saturday, December 21, 12pm
ARTIST TODD RYAN WHITE WANTS TO MAKE YOU LAUGH, CRY AND LIGHT UP
Local artist Todd Ryan White premieres a new body of work in his first solo show at form & concept, Rainbow Eater. The exhibition includes immersive installation, collage, watercolor, pen and ink drawing and wood and glass sculpture. An opening party on Friday, November 29, 5-8pm, will feature live music, interactive installation and possible mayhem.
Those familiar with White’s drawings and designs for label King Volume Records will recognize the artist’s precise ink-and-pen depictions of fantastical creatures and icons of a flippant metal subculture. In Rainbow Eater, consisting of works that are anywhere between 10 years and weeks in the making, White eschews control for investigative experimentation, drawing together seemingly disparate themes into a robust body of work that shocks with color and dark humor. Dense worlds of psychedelic fauna, melting hides, and grotesquely dancing warriors are anchored by a general state-of-the-world anxiety, and all connected to the artist’s practice around music.
In a studio interview over the sounds of psyche and doom metal, Todd explains the cathartic practice of completing works from a decade of creative practice. “I like the idea of a very inconsistent stylistic approach. I’m not trying to bridge the gap but they all exist together. To me it’s boring to be consistent.” Equal parts retrospective and premiere, Rainbow Eater is exploratory yet consummate. Earlier conceptual iterations of Magritte-esque flattened pipes in pen and ink have given way to actual melted glass pipes, a collection of objects in which chance has beautifully or unforgivingly brought together the nostalgic aesthetics and colors of 90s stoner culture. “I have the ability to be very controlled when I’m making things, but it doesn’t necessarily make things better.”
In a series of four ink-and-watercolor portraits of a lone unicorn, White again employs a knack for fluid stylistic shifts. Pairs of world-weary, and in one case, heart-meltingly sad, eyes stare from intricately rendered and muscled bodies. The series, punctuated by one of White’s largest pieces in the show, “Battle of the Dudes”—a hilariously Mike Judd-esque reimagining of Antonio Del Pollaiulol’s 15th century engraving “Battle of the Nudes”—does not make it clear if we should laugh or cry. “There is a general ‘spikiness’ that runs through the work,” White explains. “The unicorn is representative of environmental struggle for me, but there is sadistic pleasure here too, and the comedy of fighting one’s self.”
Todd Ryan White describes himself as a product of Southern California: beaches, skateboarding and punk rock. White graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and founded King Volume Records in 2015. Some exhibition highlights include The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art and The Torrance Museum of Art. He currently lives in Santa Fe with his wife, artist Thais Mather; the pair also own and operate Good Folk in Santa Fe, a gallery dedicated to the work of folk artists from Northern NM and Oaxaca, Mexico.