Coming up Roses: Will Ryman at Marlborough Gallery

Ah, the purity of roses in the sunlight! I can almost smell the scent wafting over me. But is that a cigarette butt I see at the bottom of the stem? Oh yes, it is. It seems things are not all peachy keen in Will Ryman’s oversized hyperbolic rose garden. Up at Marlborough Gallery in Chelsea through October 10, these sculptures by Ryman are well worth a wander through this quasi-fairy tale world, if only for the fun of it.

Some signs of garbage and bugs might about, but all the same the rose garden strikes a happily note. How can you argue with ballet pink and Venetian red? The bugs are kind of cute, even the bag of Wise potato chips and the crushed Starbucks cup seem colorful and cheery.

The artist was trying to create a rodent’s perspective on a NYC rose garden, which I have to say makes the experience almost too literal to be interesting. Walking through the clusters of roses makes you aware of their overwhelming stature and it increases your sense of being in some kind of wonderland. One can only think the black aphids and cigarette butts are meant to disturb that experience. It misses that mark, but maybe it is supposed to be more ambiguous than that. Entitled A New Beginning, perhaps this installation is meant to be hopeful.

What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Coming up Roses: Will Ryman at Marlborough Gallery

  1. It appears to be a set of oversized props, a rather cheap gimmick to me, rather than a gathering of contemplative objects. This current trend, the enlargement of common objects in a gallery setting, is played out. I have seen a lot of it over the past year or so. Wow look its a really big ______________!

  2. I thought Oldenburg kind of wrapped this style up. Ha! Art pun!

    Anyway. This looks like it fits in perfectly with the latest trend of making Chelsea into a big childrens’ museum. When my kids were younger we took them to this great installation called A Bug’s Life, or maybe it was Honey I Shrunk the Kids, or one of those, where we got to go through an enlarged garden.

    Why when Will Ryman does it it’s art I’m not sure. Seems kind of dopey. I mean, maybe fun — I immediately thought, my daughter would like this! — but not really art.

  3. I don’t know that I’ve seen a lot of oversized common objects lately. However “Honey I shrunk the kids” is a very apt way of understanding it.

    It’s fun to play with scale like that.

  4. “almost too literal to be interesting” — really? I haven’t experienced this work, but I imagine it would make me think about things completely unrelated to the art itself, which is one of the things I really enjoy about looking at art. I personally don’t think literal is a bad thing. Literal is just as interesting to me as something completely abstract. It opens up the imagination in a completely different way.

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