Cordy Ryman Third Ghost Wave, 2010

Art Review: Cordy Ryman At Lora Reynolds in Austin

Robert Ryman painted white surfaces which hid other colors. His son Cordy with a recent show at Lora Reynolds demonstrates that blue can be double homage when paired with sculpture form.

Cordy Ryman, "Third Ghost Wave" detail. Photo by Katy Crocker

Cordy Ryman, "Third Ghost Wave" detail. Photo by Katy Crocker

If Robert Ryman, “explodes the classical distinctions between art as object and art as surface” (as  an interview during the series Art:  21 suggests), then what artistic accomplishment could possibly remain for his son – one of two Ryman progeny that are artists – to excavate? The impulse, when viewing Cordy Rymans work, is to compare Ryman junior to influences from the work of his father. But one might also see shades of Carl Andre. And effects with paint that revisit the material instantaneity of conceptual art. Photos: Katy Crocker.

The big art movements of last century are always viewed in opposition. AbEx, hot. Minimalism, cool. But artists like Robert Ryman nudged over the edges of both. He stuck to a concept. He gestured with his brush.  Cordy follows in his fathers footsteps in this regard, as seen in the exhibition “Cordy Ryman:  Scrapple,” at  Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin, TX.

With its emphasis on materiality and bounded shapes that nevertheless gesture in space, Cordys art involves the repetition of form, and color play. “Third Ghost Wave” transmutes depending on its location, making the piece depend on its environment. One begins to ask the old questions often applies to art works like Carl Andres heap of stones in Hartford, CT. Would “Third Ghost Wave,” with its colored slats of wood, be considered art, if strewn about a warehouse?

Cordy Ryman, "Blue Brick Brace"

Cordy Ryman, "Blue Brick Brace"

“Green Wave,” which was previously exhibited outdoors at Empire Fulton-Ferry State Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York in 2007, is installed similarly to “Third Ghost Wave.” Both works are constructed of wood, but mounted to make a wave – the long, thin, wooden post arc but lean again the wall for support; no doubt, a balancing act .

Cordys application of paint and brushwork is loose, with an element of play and experimentation definitely at work in pieces like “Spiral Wedges.” Whereas Robert Rymans canvases indubitably appeared white on the surface,  the underpainting often included blue.  Metaphorically Cordys latest body of work brings blue to the surface. He uses loud blues and reds, as well as soft yellows and pinks. And, although “Spiral Wedges” hangs on the wall, its form is supremely sculptural. This object-surface dialogue is a recurring theme throughout the exhibit.

Expressive strokes are alive in Cordys art, but also the simplicity of objects. You might conclude, “Cordy Ryman: Scrapple” announced color, primarily blue, proudly. “Blue Brick Brace”  consists of identical wood blocks, cut in multiples of two, which look as if haphazardly dumped into light blue paint while few others leave raw wood exposed.

Like “Third Ghost Wave” resting against a wall in perfect balance, so too are the old formal questions of art perennially danced with, as if to music.

(top photo: Cordy Ryman Third Ghost Wave, 2010 Enamel on wood. 53 pieces, each 96 x 1-3/4 x 1-3/4 inches Approximately: 96 x 180 x 96, overall)

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