The Four Seasons Ryan Kitson July 27–August 1, 2021
Ryan Kitson’s thesis exhibition The Four Seasons examines the power of subsistence outside of market demands through cast-glass and found-object sculptures.
The Four Seasons (or a failed hunt)
Two sculptures lurk in the corners of the Gallery 511—part-animal, part-marketed hiking backpack. A third pack nearby, holds no meat, but Crocs shoes. And the fourth in Gallery 157, carries pungent morels. Like containers, Ryan Kitson’s “pack sculptures” hold blunt evidence of human subsistence—a dead animal head (the body of which was eaten by the artist)—alongside the backpack that ecotourist markets deem necessary within “nature.” The packs each represent a season and are gendered male and female. As such, they embody and critique just two of the countless fossilized cultural codes designated as supposedly valuable and truthful. But Kitson also discloses unexpected spirituality, respect, and even humorous absurdity in the conservationist-hunter mentality, as the straps are tethered over the animal eyes and the inclusion of the Crocs breaks the pattern of food.
What do these contradictions in form and functionality tell us about ourselves and our relationships with “nature”? Kitson’s sculptures diagnose a constructed unease between humans and so-called “nature” that slyly unravels our assumptions about each, while also noting the increasingly precarious encounters between the two. Will “the four seasons” even exist in an ever-warmer future (did they exist before, or only in the hotel franchise or landscaping company in Philadelphia)? Beyond the pack sculptures, delicate glass vessels and utilitarian buckets hold fish and fruit, containing life-giving nutrients and yet withholding them. And the final contradictions—signs polished to reflect their surroundings, neither warning nor directing but riddled with bullets—crystallize how human logic of our “natural” surroundings, ourselves, and the functional rituals we create to communicate between the two are somehow incomplete, and may be even foolhardy.
Take the obvious case in point of the previous writing for the exhibition in the exhibition guide. It expounds upon curatorial framing for a show that could not take place due to delayed taxidermy. There is no coyote staring back at us, but only ourselves in the polished signs, with a few other trappings. As the artist commented offhandedly the other day, there are always failed hunts.
Ryan Kitson was born in Mt. View California in 1977. He attended Southern Oregon University in the late 90’s before moving to New York City to pursue a career in the fine art. He has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Vienna, London, Milan, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Marfa. Ryan currently divides his time between the Pacific Northwest and NYC.