I don't imagine any music here. It is dead quiet,” Ryan McLennan says when asked what would be the accompanying soundtrack to the work in his new book, “The Cost of Comfort.” It's a fair question given that the artist is back to playing bass with the revamped, lo-fi twang outfit, Homemade Knives, after a hiatus to concentrate on his painting. The 29-year-old insists, however, that the visceral landscape of his painted world is silent. “Music can't exist in these paintings,” he says.
Strangeness consumes McLennan's work. Broken wildlife wanders through white space, all appearing somewhat desperate and in survival mode. It's both oddly intriguing and desolate. Aside from highlighting his work during the past three years, these images tell no sequential story within the book. “They could all be happening at the same time, not one having to be before or after the other,” McLennan says. “I can imagine a museum diorama with sculpted trees and elk, all 20 of these prints interacting in an endless white field.”
The book is actually a loose-leaf art collection housed in a gorgeous wooden box, given the white-glove assembly treatment by homegrown screen-printers, Triple Stamp Press. Knives band mate and Triple Stamp co-founder, Wil Loyal, couldn't be more proud of the finished product. “People should be climbing over top of each other to buy this book,” he says. “It is rare, relevant and stunning.” Loyal also suggests folks might be making a serious investment by purchasing part of a limited-edition collection. “One day this book may put your grandchildren through college,” he adds.
McLennan has generated acclaim as an emerging artist since earning his bachelor in fine arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2002. His work has been nationally recognized in publications such as the Boston Globe and Juxtapoz, and he's snagged a handful of awards such as a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts fellowship and most recently the 2010 West Prize. The latter left McLennan wowed and for good reason; he was chosen to take home the $25,000 grand prize. “It's great and a tremendous honor,” McLennan says. “So much great artwork was submitted and to have paintings in the West Collection is a big deal for me.” He's not resting on his laurels though. He remains focused on doing what has brought him this far, putting it quite simply: “I'm just eager to spend most of my time on painting.”
For information about “The Cost of Comfort” visit triplestamppress.com.