Ryan Travis Christian describes his graphite drawings as Ub Iwerks—the iconic 1930s Disney animator—“post bong session,” although post bomb is more like it. Christian shreds cartoonish bodily forms through an apocalyptic haze, and the effect is beautiful and dark and creepy as hell. Like any good animator, he presents his characters as everyman, or no one, or the fool, or the bleakness that gathers in the muck of our souls, fingering the goo of wrecked memories. These figures reveal themselves piecemeal, behind explosions, grinning stupidly within columns of ash, and splattered across eternity’s windshield.
Christian’s outlook isn’t always bleak, even though the work benefits from such doomsday mongering. In “I Am Tree,” the fool-faced clown is a millisecond away from crashing his car into a tree. This clown is Jackson Pollock, who famously declared, “I am nature.” Upon impact, he will be dead from meeting nature, the tree, head on. It’s nature vs. nature. Irony comes like a blow to the head, with stars shooting out the other side.
Ryan Travis Christian is a curator as well as an artist. He interviews artists on the website Fecal Face, and provokes unique responses when asking his subjects, for instance, to spontaneously invent something.