Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2006.

Installation view, 2006.

San Francisco

Ryan Boyle

Steven Wolf Fine Arts
2747 19th Street, Suite A
October 5–October 28, 2006

The juxtaposition of Ryan Boyle’s tight, diminutive sculptures and his obsessively funky, childlike drawings generates a gleefully schizophrenic vibe—a feeling affirmed by the fact that the Portland, OR–based artist is also, apparently, a “world-class break dancer.” His wall-hanging sculptures, made from a dazzling range of found materials, initially resemble dollhouse versions of the fanciful '80s-era postmodern furniture by the collective Memphis, only Boyle substitutes matte cardboard and Tiparillo tips for the slick Formica favored by the Italian designers. Although he dubs his show “Architexturism” and adds fashionable pastel-striped awnings to more than one sculpture, his interests seem less rooted in design than in a Rube Goldberg–influenced urbanism. The surprisingly seamless, pint-size sculptures envision utilitarian contraptions that create glorious streams of garbage or expressionistic splatters of toothpaste-green sludge. The more anthropomorphic works teeter on the edge of Tim Burton cuteness, but his machine-inspired pieces, with paper ducts and tubes that fold into themselves and channel unseen substances, are highly refined. The drawings, on the other hand, revel in the youthful compulsion to fill yellowing newsprint with thousands of tiny, rough marks. In one piece, a dense field of tiny green near-circles coalesces into a lawnlike image that’s as lush as it is daft.