Rob Ryan 2.0: darker and more quizzical

"There is no such thing as free time. There is no such thing as spare time. There is no such thing as play time. There is no such thing as work time. There is no such thing as quality time. There is no such thing as down time. There is no such thing as wrong time. There is no such thing as right time. There is only time."

I've spoken of my love for Rob Ryan quite a lot on Artwork Wednesdays, so you can imagine how excited I was to be invited to take a little look at his new collection at Sims Reed, just off Piccadilly in London. 'Happy chappy' just about covers it.

As totally rammed as the gallery was at the opening reception, I managed to take a close look at quite a few of his new pieces.

As tender as ever, his paper cut artworks still bore sweet sentences such as "The invisible power that held the entire universe together was your love". His aesthetic is consistent - he has carved out a brand reputation for himself with his stylised designs featured on mugs, vases and all sorts of homewares. But at this show, the sentiment was different. There was a darkness to the wording that I hadn't seen before.

You know how the voice of a poem belongs to the elusive speaker, and not (necessarily) the poet? Rob Ryan works in a similar way (or at least that's the impression I get). His voice is childlike, and the fairytale subjects compliment this. In the flagship work of this new exhibition (yours for a cute £20,000), he even writes "I am Theresa and Tom Ryan's son and I don't feel a need to belong. I'm lost in this universe for a brief speck of time. Too short for saluting flags or bowing to kings, I draw and write and dream and then "puff!" - I'm gone." This isn't the voice of a starry-eyed youngster. This is the voice of a maturing child.

Previous shows have been called "The Stars Shine All Day Too" and "Our Adventure Is About To Begin" - both were, as their names suggest, unarguably positive and charmingly idealistic.

Back in March, I wondered whether his sweetness was becoming a little saccharine for most. He certainly grabbed the world's attention with this adorable warmth, but he's retaining our interest with the more quizzical and ambiguous "There Is Only Time". This new collection represents a step in another direction for Rob Ryan. The artist who was once a child is developing a darker, more philosophical outlook. In other words, he's turning into a teenager.

Rob will be signing copies of his new book, The Invisible Power, at 1pm on Saturday 26th October at Sims Reed.


  1. Really lovely, Amz. Totally sums the evening up xx


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