From 25th October, Simon Lee Gallery in London stages an intimate solo exhibition by the young New York-based artist Ryan Mrozowski. His latest body of work – paintings in acrylic on linen, covered in natural and botanical motifs – explores seriality, the depiction of nature, repetitive patterns and optical illusions.
Mrozowski uses easily understandable and banal imagery – citrus tree flowers, oranges, blueberries and other fruits and foliage – as a starting point for the perceptual play in his works. Precise and boldly painted canvases of lush colours depicting delicate botanic detailing when viewed collectively reveal a complex visual language that goes beyond the narrative of an individual work. Seriality and repetition found in nature is explored through the compositional strategies used in his paintings. Some paintings, such as Untitled (Pair) (2018), are composed as pendants – two paintings hanging side by side – and encourage a sense of double vision. The canvases are almost identical, albeit with parts of each picture omitted and blocked out by flat fields of painted teal. Here Mrozowski invites the viewer, in a game of spot the difference, to reconstruct the image freely and to reveal that in fact the right- and left-hand erasures are complements of each other. This subtle play on image making unveils the hidden complexities of these paintings and subverts our expectations of still life painting.
The natural imagery depicted acts as a counterpart to the types of artificial interventions he makes as a painter. Mrozowski applies the language of digital tools (cutting and pasting, cropping, layering etc.) to the handmade analogue process of painting. In Untitled (Orange) (2018) oranges without stems float freely in a leafy field, their edited geometric shapes confusing the relationship between forms. A second series of smaller paintings depict colourful puzzles that are in fact based upon photographs of folded cloth. Once again, the image is broken down into simple geometric forms. Segments of canvas are pieced together like a jigsaw giving these works both a sculptural and illusionistic quality as well as a strong sense of playfulness. In his hands, ordinary, generic imagery becomes mysterious and complicated through a series of manufactured interventions.