Matthew Metzger considers the paintings of Ryan Cobourn which were recently on view at Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York and remain on view at Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto, CA through February 28.
Metzger writes: "Ryan Cobourn’s paintings dance on the precipice of a familiar scene – a landscape, a flower, an animal we can’t quite place – pushing us out in intentional flatness then pulling us in with hope that one more brushstroke, a tiny tonal variation, a form minutely changed might disclose the secret scene to us. We’re helpless in front of these paintings unless we fill in the blanks ourselves. This process of filling in, a guess really, is pure joy for the viewer. Or we can choose not to fill the void, conjuring another feeling altogether. Remaining helpless (if one has the discipline to do so) is more sublime than joyful, but in the end perhaps more enlightening as one grows comfortable in the strange space between knowing and not knowing. Of course, this is all about the familiar interplay between abstraction and representation, and Cobourn wields this tension gracefully and with purpose."