In Ryan M. Reynolds’ oil painting “(in)habited,” we are outside looking inside at a woman who is looking outside at a landscape through the top opening of a Dutch door.
It’s part of a series that Reynolds states “is informed by the concept of liminality, which is defined as occupying a position at, or on both sides, of a boundary or threshold.”
Here there are multiple thresholds, a complex play between outdoors and indoors as we observe the scene through the foliage of a riotous fruit-laden vine or tree that speaks of fertility. The plant forms a screen that offers the woman some privacy while also creating a sense of mystery.
The woman is as still as a woman in a Vermeer, and as pensive, as she stands by the interior door in a liminal state where she seems to be waiting for someone or something.
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In “Entrance,” she stands between two doors, a turquoise double door and a vibrant green door. It’s a rich, painterly image, still except for a passage in which her hands, on the open upper door sill, are offset and doubled so that they seem to move, indicating the passage of time.
In “Expecting,” she stands at a window, wearing a green blouse, in a room exploding with indoor plants. A blue object, perhaps a book or a laptop, lies on the table in front of her. Again she seems to be waiting for something, perhaps, as the title suggests, a new life growing inside her.
Slightly different in feeling are a pair of paintings in which the woman is clothed and then begins to disrobe, again suggesting the passage of time. These are sensual images with striking details, a tall white pitcher on what seems to be the edge of a bathtub and a beautifully painted doorknob on a partially opened door.
All give the sense of a freighted situation as the woman exists in a resonant space, perhaps on the threshold of motherhood or some other life-changing event.
Reynolds turns his attention to the urban landscape in “5 Bucks,” a large oil painting in which we look through the window of a coin laundry on figures washing and drying clothes. The overhead fluorescent fixtures cast a cold light on the scene in which a man at a washing machine is caught in two poses as if in a time-elapse film. This is a major work, verging on photorealism save for the man’s implied motion.
In addition to the figure paintings, including a group of straightforward, deftly handled watercolor studies for the oils of the mysterious woman, Reynolds offers several landscape subjects.
“North Atlantic” is a series of vigorous watercolors that capture the changing weather and light of a strip of Atlantic coast in Western Ireland, where Reynolds had a residency at the Ballinglen Art Center in County Mayo. In other works from the time of the residency, he focuses on seaweed gatherers and fishermen using a more delicate touch. These gemlike watercolors are winning images.
Time, space and a sense of place inform works from an intriguing series of oil paintings on panel titled “Continuum.” “Tidelands” and “4 Mile Beach” are a pair of long horizontal landscapes that are broken up geometrically with disjunctive passages that suggest different seasons and different times of day.
In these works he posits a fresh approach to landscape in which he takes a more intellectual and conceptual stance. They are interesting works, and very well done but, for me, less compelling than his paintings of the woman.
Ryan M. Reynolds Paintings
Where: b. sakata garo, 923 20th St., Sacramento
When: Through Saturday, Jan. 30, noon-6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays
Information: 916-447-4276; www.bsakatagaro.com