Vin Ryan’s notion of ‘plating up’ doesn’t quite coincide with the kind of dining experience with which we might be familiar.
“I like the idea of plating up at the end,” he chuckles. “There’s a certain chaos, a lack of control that’s left behind.” Though using the plate for fodder, the Melbourne artist’s new show at Anna Pappas puts something of a contrary spin on food culture. His grid-like photographic works – which capture countless emptied plates, bowls and vessels – effectively map the scraps of he and his family’s eating habits.
"I’ve always been interested in the accumulation of the banal,” he says. “I’m really drawn to accidental aesthetics in many ways and I guess that’s what the work is really about.”
Working across various disciplines, Ryan’s art has always invoked an accumulative, diaristic sensibility. His recent show of drawings at Monash Gallery of Art rendered neighbourhood trees, dramatically pruned to accommodate powerlines. Nonetheless, he sees it as occupying a wider artistic discourse.
“This kind of work is a good vehicle for talking about the types of things you’re trying to achieve when you do an abstract painting,” he says. “You might have some kind of conceptual concern behind what you do, but you’re also trying to arrange things by shape and colour. So, one set of plates might have been arranged together because they’ve all got the colour yellow on them; another set of plates were all plates that my son had eaten off; and another one just shows coffee or red wine that I’ve drunk over a couple of weeks or so. You could sort of see each plate as a sort of little, symbolic unit of consumption as well.”
That said, Endless Days is also something of a cheeky affront. “As an artist, you realise pretty early on that the only people who can afford to buy your work are in a whole different stratosphere in terms of income,” he pauses. I love the idea of presenting that audience what I’ve eaten,” he giggles. “It’s kind of unintentionally dismissive of that whole process. I’m giving the art audience my remnants, my scraps, like throwing your audience a bone or something. It would be great if some swanky restaurant bought the show,” another laugh. “Then maybe I could eat for the next month.”
Endless Days opens November 18 and runs until December 23 at Anna Pappas Gallery.