Freight+Volume presented Constellations, an exhibition of recent work by Cordy Ryman, from February 25 - April 11, 2021. The gallery also published an 80 page, limited-edition, full-color exhibition artist book by the same title, with essays by Samir Nedzamar and Jeffrey Grunthaner.
While continuing Ryman's engagement with site-specificity, formal abstraction, and the physicality of his materials, the works on display present a leaner formulation of his practice, made within specific artistic parameters and at a reduced scale. Increasingly aware of the recapitulation of certain “personally significant totems, symbols and homing points” within his practice, Ryman began organizing these smaller works into “clouds” and “constellations,” open ended groupings that accent the work’s cascading progression of motifs and spatial relationships.
Process is the essence of Ryman’s practice, with its pulse and the circumstances of its deployment fundamentally shaping his work. Affirming its autonomy, Ryman allows recurring imagery to accumulate organically, defined by the intuitive thrust of his practice. Though ostensibly concerned with qualities of formalism and compositional strategy, his work is not constrained by pre-established decrees, and rather hinges on the intersections of chance, intuitive expression, and the actions of the artist’s hand. The element of craft is pronounced in Ryman’s work, grounding the hidden motions of his process in tangible alterations of physical form, and perhaps reciprocally shaping the bounds of his process itself. Considerations of construction and manufacture influence the surface appearance of his work as well as their underlying spatial relationships, which are correlated to momentary acts of artistic creation.
The drastically reduced scale and configuration of the pieces in Constellations into groups emphasizes the creative kineses of Ryman’s often reflexive formal modulations, prioritizing the relationships and interplay of his “stock” visual patterns as they reverberate through his practice. They repeat in a rhythmic, circular manner, with like forms reflected in both the details and the general compositional structures of the works, creating parallel spirals of repetition. Abstract variables of time, momentum, and spatial formation are given form; propagating at unpredictable flash points, they take on an almost independent, self-determinant nature. Balancing an awareness of the personal significance of these forms as they evolved over time with a heightened interest in their coaction, Constellations highlights the underlying drives of Ryman’s oeuvre while exploring new trajectories for its development and organization.