Born in County Limerick, Robert Ryan graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design in 1987. He worked in Copenhagen and London before returning to Ireland in 1994.
In Ireland, Ryan’s work is viewed as somewhat unique. Referencing post-modern, it borrows qualities from European old masters, using traditional characteristics in a modern context. Robert Ryan paints landscape, but his work cannot be described as ‘landscape painting’. Allegorical concepts including the infinity of space and time, solitude, vulnerability, fragility and the cycle of life are explored in his paintings and drawings in which a generic four-legged creature is central. This creature inhabits another world, a universal landscape. Ryan has cultivated his images, of both place and it’s inhabitants, into a hybrid, a non-specific and as a result the viewer is left to reflect on essential truths. This is work that ultimately celebrates the commonality between man and all other creatures – past, present and future.
An interest in zoology and travel has hugely informed Ryan’s work. He has travelled widely, visiting over sixty countries on all continents where he has encountered many different eco-systems, experiencing first hand how all living things interact and how they respond to their environment, how man responds to other evolutionary groups and how we value that fact. This knowledge forms a major part of the work.
Robert Ryan lives and works in Lough Gur, Co Limerick. Lough Gur is a small placid lake, surrounded by rugged limestone hills and deciduous woodland. it has been continuously inhabited since the arrival of neolithic people five thousand years ago and is of outstanding archaeological significance. Ruins and artefacts from many periods of irish history have been found there. The evocative qualities of this environment have been a constant source of inspiration for Robert Ryan.