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The Beast is Dead

The Beast is Dead

Liam Ryan’s solo exhibition “The Beast is Dead”, co-curated by James Birch, is currently on show at the Eagle Gallery until 11 June 2011. Good paintings are as rare as hen’s teeth these days so Ryan’s work is a painterly delight. This does not mean that they are easy works.

As a group they occupy a hypnagogic space, reminiscent of flu induced hallucinations where the inanimate come to life. There are lighter tones and humour in this work; however the febrile pallette and the manner in which faces appear in the surface of the paintings, evolving out of the flowers, architectural forms such as in “God of Economic Slavery and Innovation Manifesting as a Benign Bunch of Flowers”, or as amoebic visions, and constellations are closer to Edgar Allan Poe or John Dee.


From left-right: Serum 2011 152 x 66cm, Reminder of the Ghost of a Forgotten Future Memory 2011 200 x 120cm, God of Economic Slavery and Innovation Manifesting as a Benign Bunch of Flowers 2011 121.5 x 60cm

In works such as “Deja-vu”, “Sun Eye”, or “Forever Heaven”, we are presented with windows into unknown folk narratives or fairytale. These are ripe with a sense of forboding. Looking into the eyes of a bewitched twisted onion form that stares out in “Surprise, Surprise (for you)”, it is hard to imagine that matters will go well for any of the other protagonists. In “Kerry Will Be Two Orphanages and A Swastika Swamp 2011″, a giant kitten breaks open a thatched cottage from which a female form leaves as smoke from the chimney, in ” Forever Heaven” a woman lies in a swoon, cradled in a forest, and in “Serum” the lacy female form looks so transient, so worried, you want to look away.

Eyes look out from many of these works – another unsettling feature of these paintings. In “Ichthyomancy” a single eye glints out of the heavy tapestry of compressed fish, plant forms, and in “Reminder of the Ghost of a Forgotten Future Memory”, eyes glide to the surface like sea creatures.


Ichthyomancy 2011 152 x 200cm

Ryan has created a fascinating group of works for his first show.

The Eagle Gallery will be putting on a series of shows this year, all co-curated as part of its 20th anniversary programme. It is a gallery committed to promoting young artists with solo exhibitions. They gave Cecily Brown her first solo show in 1995 and have hosted group exhibitions in the early 90s with artists including Peter Doig, Mark Francis, Tom Hammick and Alexis Harding.

Eagle Gallery,
159 Farringdon Road,
London, EC1R3AL.
Open Wednesday-Friday 11-6pm and Saturday 11-4pm.