Jay Ryan – Trouble

Friday April 22, 2011 Trouble – new paintings by Jay Ryan @ Rotofugi Gallery, Chicago


I’ve been a fan of Jay Ryan’s work since the mid 90’s when I first started seeing his screenprinted rock show posters popping up around town. Unknowingly at the time too, I was a fan of his band Dianogah, which featured 2 bass guitars and a drummer. Eventually putting the two together I followed his career pretty closely. As a musician, his band is one of my all time favorites, and as an artist the same could be said. I easily own over 50+ pieces of his work plus a couple of books. His bass lines and sound is as distinct as his hand drawn images and text that appear in his artwork. You know a ”Jay Ryan” when you see or hear one…


That’s what was impressive about Trouble. Although the paintings were clearly “Jay Ryan”, the work moved me in ways none of his previous work has. Dark and frightful, Would not be how you would describe his typical work, but this would be the first thing you’d say with Trouble.

Heavily influenced by all of the recent world disasters – New Zealand, Japan and U.S., coupled with the birth of his first child, the paintings evoke panic, distress and fear initially, but then the protectiveness, concern and obvious love that shines from within when confronted in times of disasters. Heroic, no. But inspirational and emotional, yes.


A little more fluid and flowing although I’ve seen posters he’s done that had as many as 25 screens, the images and colors blend and merge with emotion and distinction. I’ve always considered his posters the perfect blend of fine and pop art, that not just music geeks could appreciate.

 Also Jay recently did the illustrations for the city of Chicago’s One Book, One Chicago Spring reading program featuring Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere.


 If you get the chance, stop by Rotofugi and see his work, it’s up til May 22. You can check out his posters @ The Bird Machine plus he and some friends started Flinchy – t-Shirt company. Check out the video it’s hilarious.