Brooklyn Institute of Fashion and Curatorial Studies

a solo-solo show by

Michael Ryan

Inaugural exhibition of Cathouse Proper

at 524 Project Space

February 27 - April 9, 2016


Michael Ryan constructs large-scale, multivalent drawings that take approximately one year to develop. We use the term "develop" deliberately with its relevance to photography intact as Ryan develops developed photographs, usually found photos, usually from the early twentieth century, often of posed, institutionally arranged groups of people. 'Brooklyn Institute of Fashion and Curatorial Studies', the first work to be displayed at Cathouse Proper, is one of these large-scale, labor-intensive works. Ryan begins with the photograph but draws his drawing beyond the photograph by scaling up, adding lost details and improvising content. And the work is worked; it looks wrestled to life, with collaged layers, frayed edges and hour upon hour of intimate mark making, patterning, and embedded systems. While looking, the people are prioritized, but perhaps only by our own human habit, because the drawing is what Ryan draws, which brings along with it these lost people (all male, all white) tactile and present. An equivalence is made between the intensive mark making, the mise-en-scéne and the men arranged first by their institute and then by Ryan, face forward, directly confronting the viewer, bringing into our space a past with all the tensions of potentially free individuals consigned to a defining and confining environment. As a prelude to these institutional men writ large, we are addressed, in the gallery entry, by a psychologically charged smaller drawing on paper of a single young girl by Ryan entitled 'Girl from Frances Farmer Sanitarium'. Dialogue ensues.

'Brooklyn Institute of Fashion and Curatorial Studies' could almost be a subtitle for Cathouse Proper itself; we begin our program with Ryan's ambitious piece for this reason, and will keep in mind his institutional critique as a directive. Similar to our "solo-solo" program, Brooklyn Institute is both singular and multiple, individual and group, detail and gestalt. One enters and is confronted by many. With this sociability in mind, along with its attendant anxieties, please join us for an opening cocktail reception at Cathouse Proper, Saturday February 27 from 7-10PM.

Michael Ryan has been shown nationally and internationally including solo and group exhibits at Anna Marra Contemporanea in Rome, Wanwan Lei Projects and Giacobetti Paul Gallery in New York, Phoebus Gallery in Rotterdam and Project Plus in London. In March of this year Anna Marra Contemporanea will present his work in a solo booth at the a Paris. Ryan was born in Chicago in 1970 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. For more information contact David Dixon at, or visit

524 Court Street
(entrance on Huntington)
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(one block from Smith and 9th stop, F and G)
Hrs: Fri & Sat 12-6pm and by appointment

Inaugural opening night, February 27, 2016