Anat Ebgi is pleased to announce Sigil, a solo exhibition by British painter Ryan Driscoll, on view at 6150 Wilshire Blvd, May 13 – June 24, 2023. This is the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery and in the United States. An opening reception will take place Saturday, May 13, from 5 – 8pm.
For this exhibition, Driscoll created a series of nine oil paintings and a watercolor, each depicting imagined scenes of mysticism and imagery inspired by the occult. A sigil is a symbol or design used in occult and magic practices created with the intention of representing particular desires or outcomes. These pictorial symbols allow one to focus on an icon during ritual and meditation practices, aiding the practitioner to draw focus and manifest their desired outcomes.
Driscoll’s reference points are associative and personal in nature rather than direct quotations. Their vastness extends beyond this list, but includes horror imagery, Beowulf, the Scottish poet Robert Burns, Cindy Sherman, Shakespeare’s MacBeth, and Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. Like the chemically thin layers of glazing Driscoll applies to his emotive compositions, each influence adds its own depth to the morose and unexpected images.
Reverberating with references to the romance and theatricality of Pre-Raphaelite and Mannerist painting, Driscoll’s affinity for art history materializes in his approach to experimenting with painting techniques. Notably sfumato, the canonical painting mode of the Renaissance, whereby figures emerge through gradual tonal modulations. Further, multiple works use a technique called decalcomania, commonly associated with surrealist Max Ernst. The transfer technique is essentially a blotting process where paint is squeezed between two surfaces to create a mirrored image. Driscoll uses glass to print the still wet paint onto his canvases creating the cliffs in Hanging Rock and cave-like framing in Grendel’s Mother.
Suggestive of a world populated by Neo-cults and bejeweled ceremonialism, Sigil courts themes of revelry, vengeance, desire, love, and death. Hearkening to paganism, mother and antithesis of Catholicism, works such as The Red Dragon alludes to both The Book of Revelation and depictions of early Christian martyr and homoerotic fascination, Saint Sebastian. Here, Driscoll has replaced the arrows which typically pierce Sebastian’s perfectly posed torso with serpent-tongued monsters. Each retablo-like image operates as an incantation; eerie litanies to conjure hidden knowledge. The results are generative. Mining the depths of a private emotional world, Driscoll proposes a mythos of his own.
Ryan Driscoll (b. 1992, Corby, UK) received his BA in Fine Art from Camberwell College of Art, London. He has exhibited his work in solo and group presentations including at Soft Opening, London, UK; Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA; STEMS, Brussels, BE; Grimm, Amsterdam, NL; and Meredith Rosen Gallery, New York, NY. In 2018 Driscoll won the British LGBTQ+ Awards Art Initiative. Driscoll lives and works in Corby, UK.