Virginia Ryan is an Australian-Italian binational artist born in Australia, now resident in Umbria.

As a child she lived with her family in Melborne in Victoria, in Varese in Italy (66-68) before completing her schooling in Canberra.

A graduate from the Australian National University School of Art and Design in Canberra, Australia (79) and with a post~graduate degree in Art Therapy from Edinburgh, Scotland (94), Virginia has since succesfully explored the diverse disciplines of painting, photography, sculpture and installation in collaboration with artists, anthropologists and musicians .

She has lived and worked with artists in Alexandria ,Egypt (1982 -1985), Curitiba, Brazil (1988-1990), during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia  in Serbia (1990-1992), Edinburgh, Scotland (1992-1995)  Accra, Ghana (2001-2007) and Abidjan and Grand Bassam in Ivory Coast. (2009-2017) .

Complementary to her art practise, in 2004 Virginia co-founded, with Prof. Joe Nkrumah, the Foundation for Contemporary Art  (FCA) in Ghana, becoming the first Director from 2004 until  2007. As part of her engagement  with Creatives in Africa, Virginia facilitated connections  with practicing artists of FCA and New York University students through her seminal programme Envisaging Accra, facilitating the  Meet The Artist  and the Art in the Garden recurring events whilst establishing the Art Library at the office at the Dubois Centre in Accra. The Foundation celebrated the first decade of activity in 2014 and has recently renovated and updated its office and library.

Much of her research in the years 2000~2010 was concerned with identity, land and memory, resulting in large scale projects such as The Castaways Project and Exposures:A White Woman in West Africa with sound artist/anthropologist  Steven Feld.  Ryan's work often looks at displacements and migrations, loss and transformations, involving diverse engagements with artistic/community networks through vastly interconnected art worlds .The resulting Imagery is expressed through western and contemporary visual languages, and often incorporates 'embodied memories' found in objects-trouvees to explore the poetics of the everyday. Mindful of her origins, in Virginia's diverse multi-media practise 'lived experience' facilitates elaborations outside the claustrophobia of the Eurocentric gaze.

In 2008, the city of Spoleto in Italy honoured her with an anthological survey at the Museum of Modern Art as an official event of the 51st International 'Festival of Two Worlds'. in the exhibition catalogue  'Africa and Beyond'  art critic Achille Bonito Oliva observed:

''........The strategy of Virginia Ryan who states the right to her own imagery, fleeing the logic of dual extremism: globalisation or tribalisation. She adopts the tactics of cultural nomadism to escape the perverse consequence of a tribal identity. At the same time she claims symbolic production against the commodification of a now global economy. In this way she states the right to the diaspora, to multicultural, transnational and multimedia crossing. She thus eludes any logic of belonging through a fundamental choice which tends to deny the value of space, habitat and the respective surrounding anthropology, in favour of a value of time condensed in the form of the work.....

Virginia Ryan stoically and freely chooses the diaspora, that tragic historic fate suffered by many peoples in both East and West, In this sense the work acquires a Utopian value in the true sense of the word, the preference for a non-place, for a 'dematerialized elsewhere' that does not require permanence or definitive occupation. Painting, sculpture, photography, design and architecture interweave in the production of installations that can stand in any space, but without the risk of being totally integrated. The nomadism and eclecticism of style that supports the form helps the establishment of a gradual decomposition with respect to the spatial unity of the productive moment and the temporal unity of the moment of contemplation. Virginia Ryan's work acts like a blender that creates interaction between the various forms of language and dematerializes every traditional aesthetic category......''

In December 2013, leaving Abidjan, Virginia moved her African studio  to the historic coastal city of Grand Bassam, a Unesco World Heritage Site in the Ivory Coast  where she sourced local material such as analogue photographs, dress fabrics and abandoned film posters for new projects. In collaboration with young artists/ studio assistants, she established the  N.G.O. 'Make Art Not War' whose mission was to use creative means in peace-building and reconciliation after the years of civil conflict.

In late 2015 Virginia closed her studio in Bassam and returned to the Italian studio, some months before the massacre on the local beach (March 2016) where many people were to lose their lives.

In October 2016, Virginia founded an open art workshop with asylum seekers from West Africa in Trevi, her place of residence in Italy:  #MakeArtNotWalls/italia which created a place for creative exploration between art and art therapy She is facilitating/ curating exhibitions of the group's work in Italy and internationally ( Edinburgh, Los Angeles, Paris), whilst also  continuing her own art practise. Support has been strong for the project, instilling cultural  and interpersonal awareness : www.makeartnotwallsitalia.org

She was nominated an 'Accademica di Merito'  at the the prestigious Vannucci Art Academy in Perugia (established 1573) in November 2018.

In late 2018 Virginia returned for two months to Victoria, her birth-place in Australia, to further continue the 'I Will Shield You' project developed in West Africa and Italy, thus intimately linking three continents; working intensely in the Southern Grampians in the Balmoral Post Office Studio where she will return in early 2020 : an exploration of her birth country and the lessons that  land and people offer. In  2019  she was on site  in  the Museum of Contemporary Art in Rome for an Artist 'Atelier'  and was  invited to exhibit in the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Brazil in the 14th Bienal of Curitiba entitled Fronteiras Abertas.

Since 2008, she has shown in the Biennales of Malindi, Dakar, Venice and Curitiba, and in the first and second Biennale Alto in the Dolomite region of Italy.

Virginia  is presently engaged also in the production of  intricate, time-based collage and mixed media works-on-paper :  going back to the source. Drawing at its best is not what your eyes see but what our mind understands.



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