Pasatiempo - - PASA REVIEWS -

imag­ine a line — not a straight one, but one that twists and turns like a me­an­der­ing river — stretch­ing from the Re­nais­sance works of Raphael, Michelan­gelo, and Leonardo da Vinci, to the Man­ner­ist paint­ings of Parmi­gian­ino, and from Parmi­gian­ino to the Dutch Old Masters. The river twists and bends but never terminates. It goes on from the Baroque into the Ro­coco, and from the Ro­coco to Neo­clas­si­cism and Ro­man­ti­cism, to 19th-cen­tury re­al­ism and on into the present era, where ideas, styles, and tech­niques con­tinue to build on the long his­tory of Western art tra­di­tions. The Ry­der Stu­dio in Santa Fe con­tin­ues these tra­di­tions in fig­u­ra­tive paint­ings and draw­ings, and its founder, An­thony Ry­der, knows the river runs fath­oms deep.

Ry­der and his wife, Ce­leste, stud­ied at the Art Stu­dents League of New York in the 1980s, work­ing un­der Ted Seth Ja­cobs, who now runs his own school, L’Ecole Al­bert De­fois, in France. The Ry­der Stu­dio, es­tab­lished in 2007, op­er­ates in much the same way as the 19th-cen­tury ate­liers, the pri­vate stu­dio schools or work­shops of pro­fes­sional artists teach­ing a small group of stu­dents. At Ry­der, stu­dents work from live mod­els or cre­ate still lifes. “It’s re­ally like a one-room school­house,” said An­thony Ry­der, who is one of three in­struc­tors at the stu­dio, along with Ce­leste Ry­der and John Reger. “The in­for­ma­tion we’re con­vey­ing is the same in­for­ma­tion over and over and over again, but peo­ple get it at dif­fer­ent lev­els; be­gin­ners will some­times grab on to cer­tain ba­sic, method­olog­i­cal, tech­ni­cal things, and the more ad­vanced stu­dents would be fo­cus­ing on more re­fined as­pects of the same process.” All three in­struc­tors and the stu­dio’s cur­rent stu­dents show their work in the an­nual Ry­der Stu­dio Ex­hibit at Ar­gos Stu­dio and Gallery and Santa Fe Etch­ing Club, open­ing on Fri­day, April 8. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for be­gin­ning stu­dents to ex­hibit along­side their more tech­ni­cally ad­vanced peers.

Lo­cated at the Sec­ond Street Stu­dios, the Ry­der Stu­dio is a small, low-ceilinged space with light­ing de­signed to il­lu­mi­nate sub­jects in vari­able con­di­tions. The ate­lier pro­gram is a year long and be­gins in the fall. “Not every­body who’s here stud­ies full time,” Ry­der said. “Some of the stu­dents are here for the whole year, and oth­ers come for a week some­times, or they’ll come for a month, or the fall term, or the spring se­mes­ter. We have a pretty flex­i­ble en­roll­ment sys­tem.” The pro­gram is in­ten­sive. Stu­dents study por­trait

paint­ing in the morn­ing ses­sions and draw­ing in the af­ter­noons. In the last few weeks be­fore the end of the se­mes­ter, the fo­cus is more on paint­ing. “Ev­ery time we do a por­trait, it’s another op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice the same thing and see into it a lit­tle deeper. Our pro­ce­dural, method­olog­i­cal side gets a lit­tle more con­fi­dence, and we get a lit­tle more fa­cil­ity in the way we do things. The longer a per­son can study here, the more they as­sim­i­late the body of knowl­edge and prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, and then they can take that into their own prac­tice.”

The work on view at Ar­gos ranges from nearpho­to­graphic re­al­ism to looser, more painterly por­traits ren­dered in oils, as well as char­coal and graphite draw­ings. At Ry­der, stu­dents prac­tice cap­tur­ing the ef­fects of light in small color sketches called poster stud­ies. Rather than be­ing used for fin­ished com­po­si­tions, the small stud­ies are rough, un­de­tailed, and mostly fea­ture­less. Un­der­stand­ing the prop­er­ties of light and how it af­fects col­ors and tones is a key les­son taught at the stu­dio. “These stud­ies rep­re­sent the feel­ing of the shin­ing of light, the light of the space and of the sub­ject. The par­tic­u­lars of the tech­ni­cal as­pects of draw­ing and paint­ing that we em­ploy here pretty much come through me and my wife and our teacher with whom we stud­ied in New York.”

Fig­u­ra­tive paint­ing and draw­ing fell out of fa­vor in the mid-20th cen­tury, as artists tested the lim­its of ab­strac­tion, turned their at­ten­tion to con­cep­tual and min­i­mal­ist prac­tices, and aban­doned re­al­ism. “The sup­pres­sion of it in the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tury gave a lot of other styles of art and a lot of other philoso­phies and modes of ex­pres­sion an op­por­tu­nity to shine and to be out there and gain ac­cep­tance,” Ry­der said. “There al­most came to be an idea that if an artist wasn’t break­ing with tra­di­tion, they weren’t re­ally an artist. The break­ing of things be­came the hall­mark of artis­tic ex­plo­ration. There was an ex­plo­sion of stylis­tic ex­per­i­men­ta­tion that’s car­ry­ing into the present time, too.”

But fig­u­ra­tive, re­al­ist paint­ing, which never went away, has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a resur­gence of in­ter­est. “In my mind, it’s a lit­tle bit like if a de­vel­oper cre­ated a large shop­ping mall and paved a big part of a field. It was there for 40 years and then, let’s say, the shop­ping mall was aban­doned and things started to come up through the cracks — grasses and trees — and you couldn’t re­ally find the asphalt any­more.”

Ry­der has two paint­ings in the ex­hibit: Chelsea and Har­lequin. The lat­ter is a soul­ful, mys­te­ri­ous, un­fin­ished por­trait of a young woman that con­veys a depth of ex­pres­sion through the ren­der­ing of her eyes, which are painted al­most black save for the finest pin­points of white in each, rep­re­sent­ing re­flected light. His Har­lequin is given weight by some­thing out­side the can­vas: what­ever it is that she has fixed her gaze upon. It’s not just a por­trait but a por­trait of some­one look­ing at some­thing. It pulls you in by sug­gest­ing sub­text or nar­ra­tive. By con­trast, the gaze of the sub­ject of Jil­lian Mazur’s oil on linen Westin ,a stu­dent work, reads as more in­tro­spec­tive. Be­cause the stu­dents work from live mod­els, the sub­ject is of­ten the same. Westin is also the ti­tle of another stu­dent por­trait, this one by Emile Wie­gand Bruss, and of another piece by in­struc­tor John Reger. The dif­fer­ences in paint­ing tech­niques — the tighter treat­ment of Weigand Bruss and the looser brush­work of Reger, for ex­am­ple — show that Ry­der Stu­dio fos­ters in­di­vid­ual ex­pres­sion.

“Peo­ple have done rep­re­sen­ta­tional paint­ing since the Egyp­tian times, or even pre­his­toric times,” Ry­der said. “There’s a cer­tain frac­tional pop­u­la­tion that just seems to need to do this. Now that it’s no longer con­sid­ered kind of con­trary to ‘real’ art, it’s com­ing back in leaps and bounds.”


▼ The Ry­der Stu­dio Ex­hibit

▼ Open­ing re­cep­tion 5:30 p.m. Fri­day, April 8; ex­hibit through May 1

▼ Ar­gos Stu­dio and Gallery & Santa Fe Etch­ing Club, 1211 Luisa St., 505-988-1814

An­thony Ry­der: Har­lequin, oil on linen panel; top, from left, Jamie Gille­spie: Booker, graphite on pa­per; Dar­a­lyn Peifer: Booker, graphite and chalk on pa­per; Mary Sto­vall: Booker, graphite on pa­per

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