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Virginia Ryan is an Australian~Italian binational artist working in Italy and in West Africa.

A graduate from the National Art School, Canberra, Australia (79) and a Post~Graduate School in Art Therapy from Edinburgh, Scotland (94) Virginia  has worked internationally within the disciplines of painting, photography, sculpture and installation, alone or in collaboration with artists, anthropologists and musicians since 1981.

Now based primarily in Italy  , 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. .

Complementary to her art practise, in 2004 Virginia cofounded, with the late Prof. Joe Nkrumah, the Foundation for Contemporary Art  (FCA) in Ghana . She was Director until 2007. As part of her support for younger artists in Africa, she  connected up practicing artists of FCA with New York University through her seminal programme Envisaging Accra' and, established the art library  which continues to grow within the FCA foundation office at the Dubois Centre in Accra. The Foundation celebrated the first decade of activity in 2014. It then suffered a massive flood and is being restored.

Much of her personal artistic research in the years 2000~2010 has been 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  and MacArthur Scholar Steven Feld.

''Ryan's work  has often concerned displacement, migrations, memory, loss and transformation, and has involved  multiple engagements with local artists, communities, and layered 'art worlds' in the places where she has resided. 
She employs traditional western and contemporary visual languages, and often employs everyday objects to uncover the extraordinary reality of today's dynamic West Africa; mindful of her origins,in her mixed media practise her lived experience allows her to step outside the claustrophobia of  the Eurocentric gaze''.

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.

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 observes:

''........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 2013 Virginia moved her African studio from Abidjan to the historic coastal city of Grand Bassam, a Unesco World Heritage Site in the Ivory Coast.  A location rich in history and the aesthetics of decay Bassam offered an entry into new  projects.

In collaboration with young artists/ studio assistants, Virginia 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 October 2016, she founded an open art workshop with asylum seekers from West Africa sponsored in Trevi, her place of residence in Italy:  #MakeArtNotWalls/italia which intersects art and art therapy . She is facilitating/ curating exhibitions of the group's work in Italy and internationally, whilst concurrently continuing her own art practise. Support has been strong for the project, an example of affirmative action to instill cultural awareness and interpersonal understanding in an ever more divided world :


Solo projects have  included:

~The  photographic cycle 'Selling Dreams/Espace a Louer' shown in Galerie Cecile Fakhoury,Abidjan / 1:54 Art Fair London, Rome Photo Festival (2015) / Palazzo Lucarini Contemporary Trevi Italy and Janet Clayton Gallery Sydney Australia//Collage/Paintings 'Never~Ending Story' re-imagining Old Cinema Posters recuperated from an old storehouse in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. Shown at Galerie Cecile Fakhoury, Biennale of Dakar OFF 2014 / Palazzo Lucarini Contemporary 2017//~Vous Etes Ici ' installations/site specific mixed~media work exploring the collective history of Grand Bassam shown in Africa and in Europe//- I Will Shield You  shown in Montoro12 Gallery in Rome in May 2016 City PInacoteca of Trevi and castello di Postignano, Umbria, Italy.

Represented by  Galleria Montoro12 (Rome and Brussels)

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