Ryan McGinness on the Impact of His Art

Ryan McGinness says he uses beauty as a "Trojan Horse."
  • Transcript


Question: How should your art make us feel?

McGinness:    Well, hopefully the work operates on a number of different levels.  You know, figuratively and literally, the… literally though the paintings are constructed to operate unlike fractal patterns so you can, you know, see the paintings and take something away at different distances and as you go in, hopefully, they almost simulate the psychedelic experience of going in and being rewarded for that and so you look at the details up close and you… and you can… and there’s something there to impart information and there’s something being communicated very up close and far away.  And then more figuratively, I hope that the work can communicate on different levels in that… I’m trying to make beautiful things, I think beauty is the answer but I also want to use beauty and aesthetics as a Trojan horse of sorts and so once you get past the fact that it’s a pretty painting and you look at the individual iconic drawings, they reveal something in a lot of cases more sinister or not so pretty and that’s maybe that subversive element that you’re talking about earlier to use not only the aesthetic of cool unanimous iconic forms to communicate something more personal and hopefully poetic but also use the form of art and beauty aesthetic in a subversive way.  And I’m not sure how successful the work is in doing that but a lot of times people will say that… I really like that painting or this other painting or show or installation or sculpture and it’s beautiful and it’s lush and all that but I’m curious if they saw the specific images which a lot of times aren’t so pretty. 

Question: Should people leave relaxed on unsettled?

McGinness:    Oh, I don’t know about that.  I guess hopefully if I had to choose hopefully unsettled but maybe unsettled with a greater sense of inner peace, I don’t know.  I don’t know if I’m prepared to impose in a kind of standard on what… once you walked away from a show with that, I don’t know.