Bryan Ryley | Calgary
850 2 St SW
Calgary, AB T2P 1B7
Several factors influenced my thinking when I initially conceived of the works for Bankers Court and continued to exert themselves during their development. Primarily I wished to establish a contemporary feel from the work, an energy of our time that could be felt and appreciated by those who work in the building and those who pass by on the street. Secondly, the buildings character had a voice that I wished to work with, the feeling of lightness and integrity to its design motivated me to work in a minimalist fashion, allowing for interplay between the language of the structure and that of the paintings. Thirdly, I wished to recognize Calgary as a city, its location and history in the western prairie region, its relationship to the people of the land, and its position today as a major urban center.
In order to enhance the architectural signature of the building and to engage viewers within and exterior to the building, the paintings employ vertical elements composed to suggest lateral movement across the surface of the canvas. These vertical structures, constructed through the pulling movement of large 16’ squeegees, reflect and play off the architecture, in particular the supporting columns that run along 9th Avenue. In turn these vertical forms echo and complement the energy of the sculptural component placed exterior to the lobby. It was my intention that the proximity of both the columns and sculptural component would appear static when viewed against the implied kinetic dynamics embedded in the paintings. With this visual interplay feelings of quiet and contemplation are accentuated as are feelings of energy and movement, the emphasis of each being dependent on site lines and personal responses of the inhabitants of the space. From the street the paintings, as seen through the horizontal bank of columns, suggest the kind of movement one detects out of the corner of one’s eye. This is especially so with motorists who pass this site on a daily basis. It is hoped that this encourages interest in the energy and mood of the lobby bringing visitors into the building.
The color of the paintings intentionally employ saturated primary, secondary and tertiary hues, differing in each canvas, and determined by the two distinct wall treatments as well as two themes that I was approaching given thoughts of the city.
On the lighter travertine wall the colour palette is comprised of lively and light hues, over active contrasting hues. The overall effect is warm with a quiet activity moving laterally across the surface, movement to both draw and welcome the visitor into the space. “Sun Meets Moon”, as the painting is titled, implies an aerial view, as if one is flying over the prairie glimpsing the grid like structure of the land below. Across this elevated field of view two distinct forms appear to shift, one a yellow ‘Pacman’ shape with mouth agape (Sun) slides toward a blue crescent shape (Moon) appearing to be in closing in to swallow it whole. My thoughts here were to direct our attention to the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the region, the first inhabitants who settled and developed the culture of the prairie. Along the sides of this work, black ‘oil like’ passages suggest the new riches of the land that have fuelled the development of the city that we see today.
On the black granite wall the color palette utilizes saturated red hues moving across contrasting grounds inserting a glow to the space and establishing a target like feel to draw the viewer through the length of the lobby. Color wraps around the stretcher edges creating a contrast to the wall surface treatment, serving to catch the eye from oblique angles. “C Train” attempts to construct an urban feel in contrast to the rural landscape suggested in “Sun Meets Moon”. Much more figurative in structure this work implies a more congested fee, more dense and urban. Within its hazy blur, forms appear to stand in a column like row. The title is to suggest that this may be a platform of the light rapid transit system of the new city, the energy and dynamic of the ongoing city. Instead of the “A Train” we are now riding the new frontier of the “C Train.”
In all of this, from conception through construction, I have adhered to a central tenet of abstraction, which was best coined by the Dutch American artist Willem de Kooning, when he stated that truth is revealed in the ‘glimpse,’ wherein reality is felt as well as perceived, where form suggests the multifaceted aspects of all existence, rather than the singular and linear concepts of representation. I feel this is important to our time.