Ryan Travis Christian

, b. 1983

Ryan Travis Christian’s 1990s suburban Chicago upbringing offered up absurd experiences, which he uses as fuel for the surreal personal narratives in his pop-culture-influenced graphite drawings. Impacted by Chicago-style figuration, Christian focuses on the paradoxical relationship between childish cartoons and ominous messages, musing on the technological and material obsolescence of his inspiration. Vintage political cartoons and hand-drawn animation influence Christian’s detailed vignettes—namely from Ub Iwerks, George Condo, and the Hairy Who—Christian comes to terms with his sources’ sordid pasts while embracing their richness and flavor. Christian carefully and densely layers graphite to reveal high contrast graphics and dizzying patterns; wiggly figures are rendered in slow motion, living among hazy landscapes and melting fences. He exposes the untidy lifestyle of contemporary humanity through a vast array of topics and imagery; the economy, the environment, gender, class, hope, and doubt are contemplated with drugs, heavy petting, alcohol, violence, depression, death, and the afterlife. Christian’s recent work has expanded to comment on current nationwide and worldwide crises: his historical precedents become mirrors reflecting the common concerns of the present. Text is prevalent in Christian’s work, coming mostly from personal notes-to-self about conversations or encounters that have stuck around long enough to remain relevant to him and keep up to the caliber of his source.