With the works in the exhibition “Reversed Limbo”, Ryan Mosley continues to examine historical sources, which has already been an approach in his earlier works. The singular images crafted by Mosley, works that range from the wondrous to the monstrous, often rest on the artist’s transgressive attitude to the classical genres of painting. Still life, landscape, and portraiture collapse in on each other, as studies of shoes morph into human likenesses, and botanical renderings become strangely animated and threatening scenes. Mosley’s interest in the anthropomorphic potential in various forms and characters, from top hats to cacti, means that in spite of his often grotesque hybridities (which include limbs with afros and snakes in drag), a sincerely human presence is never far from the canvas.
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.
„In one of Mosley’s latest paintings called Heavy Nelson two figures (or, are they figures) are seen from the back, whereas the one on the left with harlequin-diamond garb and stable legs, is distinct from the figure on the right who seems to be constituted of pitchers or ewers perched on strange spindly legs that mimic the accompanying foliage. Beyond is a forward-facing male figure that appears to be wearing a puritan’s hat and presenting a bottle. You look again and realise they also create an overall visual effect of a mask or grotesque head, since teeth appear between the legs of the foreground figures that constitute a mouth. The edges of the painting have a pictorial framing with foliage derivative of the palm or cacti forms familiar from Mosley’s earlier paintings. But here they actively function as framing arabesques, remembering that the ‘arabesque’ itself is derived from the classical or antique concept of the grotesque. At the same time the spatial depth is constantly shifting between a theatrically staged offering, a grotesque mask, a strange frieze-like convention, or even a Mexican carnival event. But it is these constantly shifting uncertainties that create the very qualities that vindicate Mosley’s continuous use of pictorial references to a carnival aesthetic.” Mark Gisbourne, from: Carnival of the Senses, exhibition catalogue
29 March – 19 May 2012