Artist VIPs 2012: Ray Colleran
Author: Nada Marjanovich | Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012
ray colleran with “ash wednesday,”
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exactly. and more than that:
“art is really personal. we shouldn’t tell people what they should see.”
but you do see something when looking at colleran’s work. you don’t see it with your eyes or your heart even. you see it with your gut. you see the duality in the portrait of a man with an ash wednesday cross on his forehead when, in the same space, you see the arms he deals, his business of killing. what should you think about it? you already know.
to call this socially conscience art, anti-war messaging or an attempt at art therapy would be a gross over-simplification. the better way to think about why this work is different is as a sort of dysfunctional iconography. the way a mirror can at first be intimidating (especially if you’ve stayed at the party too long), but then comforting (because at least one of your eyebrows is still there).
in the truest sense of the term, colleran is experimenting. with images, with colors, media, repetition and even the actual elements. this is an exercise of freedom. that and the fact that he’s in it for himself. “i’m so much more a subconscious artist than anything…i paint from the gut.” so because there is no eagerness to please us, he apologizes for nothing.
anger and darkness are obvious in the work, but so are pockets of light. the viewer is relieved of fumbling with intent, if he wants to be, because instead he can simply appreciate the openness and brightness. it reminds you of our social ills, yes, and that is of course important. but if you let yourself, it reminds you of hope, too. and what can be more important than that?
“new york harbor” and “come hither” (bottom courtesy of artist)
photos: tom fitzgerald
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