Ryan Coleman’s work intertwines elements of animation imagery with abstract expressionist painting. It explores a series of dichotomies – control and spontaneity, light and darkness, surface and depth, and the historical and the modern. Regarding process, Coleman states – “I generally begin by using imagery and stills from cartoons as reference material, taking shapes, color and elements from the imagery and abstracting it into an entirely new obscured context.” The ‘Cel Paintings’ are an ongoing series made using traditional 2D animation techniques – ink and acrylic on acetate. Prior to the digital age, it took hundreds or thousands of hand painted cels to make a single cartoon, with the individual paintings often overlooked as items unto themselves. This series of work explores removing the purpose of their original context, and creating individual paintings based on the techniques.
Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Ryan Coleman (b. 1975) received a BFA in painting from the Atlanta College of Art in 2001. Following a brief period working in animation for the Cartoon Network the following year, he moved to New York City to serve as studio assistant for artist Jeff Koons for eight years in addition to working in his own Brooklyn studio. In 2011, Coleman returned to Atlanta to focus full time on his artwork. In 2015 a series of his work was acquired by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta for their permanent collection, in addition to participating in a group show at the museum. His work was also included in the exhibition ‘Abstraction Today’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Atlanta, Georgia in 2016.