Ryan Brennan

Ryan Brennan‘s work typically presents multi-faceted collage sculptures that layer evocative materials–whether home videos from his youth, personal memorabilia from his parent’s basement, items culled from thrift stores, and iconic or diaristic personal symbols, such as boom box radios, string, video game parts, or baroque ornamentation. Brennan reassembles these mementos in an organic and free-spirited fashion, recontextualizing their unique histories to create beautiful realms of imagination and possibility. Appearing as memories beautifully quilted together through a sensitive and poetic intuition, Brennan’s works “offer a gateway… into the idealistic, creative mindset of the child that exists inside of each of us.”


In his recent solo show at Heaven Gallery entitled Daydreams in the Age of Delightenment, Brennan expounds upon his characteristic line of inquiry, to create new three dimensional collages that combine found objects, cut paper, wood work and drawings; this time strung together with poetic riddles.

Brennan has brought his new wall relief collages to life by turning them into wondrous miniature environments which stop animation movies are filmed. He describes his new work as “Cinemallage: Works that are simultaneously the set and viewing platform for stop animation movies.”


Housed within each collage is a video player displaying three chapters of a 32 minute stop motion animation. The video is an endearing story replete with astronauts, princesses traveling to strange lands and interstellar love objects. The subject is an imaginative tale of a young man’s journey through a land of make believe where he learns of the power of imagination to make a change in the world around him. This story cleverly utilizes the naive language of fairytale as a vehicle to engage real issues of modern society evoking hope and community in a trying time of uncertain future.

Brennan notes, “In the end everyone wants a fairytale life. In the beginning for some, like me, this seems very possible and the notion of God and existence seems pure and comprehensible. But as we grow older the realities of the world start to set in. The world becomes more complicated and individuals become more complex. By the time you’re an adult the simple notion of the childhood fairytale like world has vanished into make believe. In my work I try and replicate these childhood ideals by exploring narratives taken directly from my childhood experience as well as those nieces and nephews. Sometimes the narratives are more specific than others but in the end the idea is the same. I want to offer a gateway through these works into the idealistic, creative mindset of the child that exists inside of each of us.”


The show itself included a three part Cinemallage. In the three part “Close Your Eyes… ” series, Ryan hearkens back to the grade school craft of diaromas to create an all-encompassing world of fantasy. Neon lined Alps house kaleidoscopic fantasy castles, trappings of theater curtains, and gold fleur-de-lises collide with what could be heaven’s stringed harps and images of decadent halls.

His all encompassing, horror vacui environments reflect a broad range of materials. Brennan reflects, “I’m definitely a pack rat. My studio looks like a very disorganized thrift store with piles of cloth, books, stereos and weird trinkets everywhere. The whole process begins with the collecting of different objects; the first decision whether to take it back to the studio or not. At that point I have no specific idea usually in mind, that comes much later. When I’m working, I generally have a loose idea of what it is I want to convey, sometimes more than others. The key for me is to have all my materials at hand so I can easily visualize them in my work. The pieces start to work out subconsciously, until I start to get the idea of what I believe I’m trying to convey. Then, I start to make more rational decisions on symbolism, and metaphor.”


He also included a video installation “TV ARC” facetiously exploring “western civilization” through a never ending windows browser style hall of mirrors, delving into countless TV programs. Ryan also tied in a unique performative piece to prequel the exhibition of his works. Two weeks before the opening, Ryan attached envelopes with cards that read “You Found Me, I Am For You,” with the address to Heaven Gallery. Sixty of these were let off into the air, half-filled with helium so the wind caught them and they dispersed by chance through the city. The remaining 60 were hand delivered to friends and placed on their doorstep. In keeping with Brennan’s attraction to themes such as fate, fancy and chance, the work highlights the potential for human connection.

Ryan V. Brennan (b. Cincinnati, Ohio 1982) has exhibited internationally (France, and Prague) and nationally (Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, Richmond). He has a two person show June 09 at Rare Gallery in Chelsea. Ryan received a full fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center in 06 and has been featured in a variety of publications including, The New York Times, Beautifuldecay.com, The Sunday Paper, Atlanta, Biscayne Times, Miami, and Savannah Morning News.