Ryan French graduated with a first degree from Manchester School of Art and is currently based in Manchester. His practice consists of painting, illustration and digital art. The subject matter of his work lies in the human condition, the ability to share and connect our experiences through visual language, and the necessity of fantasy in the face of reality. Symbolism, mythology and Jungian psychology are often a feature. His artistic influences span the breadth of art history with particular reference to Dada, Surrealism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau. French is currently exhibiting his digital works and illustrating the queer-horror graphic novel ‘Love Bug’.
website: ryanpeterfrench.com instagram/twitter: @ryanpeterfrench
My practice is inspired by the Situationist International and Psychogeography- that is, the study of the effect of one’s surroundings upon the psychological state.
I use photographs taken from my daily travels and dérives into the city and collage them together digitally. cutting them up and reconfiguring them into whatever I can imagine. Enhancing the colours and making them fantastical, they are often saturated with information to mirror the society of excess that we are consumed by. It is a unique form of escapism that in its very essence warns us against itself; Eco and Baudrillard’s writings on ‘hyperreality’ are particular points of reference, as well as the desperately absurdist social commentary and collages of the Dada movement.
‘The Sky Has No Surface looks to these intangible things by asking artists to explore their own boundaries and surfaces in relation to what goes beyond our line of sight.’
My work explores the boundaries of our physical reality with that of the virtual world we become ever more entangled with in our society. The identity we present online is often a curated, cherry picked version of ourselves; the internet gives us more control of what we actually show of our personas to the world. The limitless borders of the virtual allow us to connect and share information more freely. Donna haraway’s ‘A Cyborg manifesto’ is of particular inspiration to my work; she explains that a breakdown of borders and categories between people is important for our society tomove forward and prejudices to break down, and in a way, we are currently doing this as we spread our personalities into the virtual world.
‘Dating in the Digital Age’ in particular focuses on online dating. The beautiful environment and colours symbolise an idealised love. The people communicating via their laptops in the sky are actually mirror images of one another, showing how we place our own image and expectations onto others. The fantastical scene is meant to symbolize the excitement and possibility presented by the virtual, whilst the fake, saturated colours show that it is more hollow and unrealistic. ‘Dearth of Venus’ is another depiction of venus, only this time there is a darker undertone. The classic image of the Venus De Milo is now built into machinery, like a cyborg. Being the symbol of love, it poses the question as to where the ideal of love fits into our modern secular society. Our concepts and perceptions are constantly morphing and evolving in the same way our technology is. The image could be seen as a lack of love, or perhaps it shows how classical ideas and images persevere throughout history.