The UMKC Fine Arts Gallery has a new collection hanging on its walls.
The way the pieces are arranged in the gallery conveys a deep sense of movement from the moment viewers walk in. There are canvases covered with smudges and streaks of paint, he textures visibly lifted from the surfaces by caked on gobs of paint and attached sections of drawings that bend and fold physically with the images on the canvas. The term “images” is being used loosely here, as there are very few paintings depicting actual “things.” While there are a handful of paintings that hint at the structures of faces and bodies, most of the works are built up from layers and layers of paint, ink, graphite, charcoal and whatever else Ryan Schick can get his hands on.
Schick, a UMKC graduate student, brings together a body of work that is diverse as it is vibrant and powerful. According to press releases, Schick is “inspired by the universe’s process of entropy,” and it is evident in the way that his work and his process are inseparable. Much like the law of entropy, Schick’s work descends into what appears to be chaos. However, in actuality the pieces have a sense of calculated progress over a long period of time and an impressively enormous body of work. Schick has one of the largest collections of pieces at the gallery in a long time, including canvases ranging from the size of a car hood to the size of a wallet. “Metamorphism” is a demonstration of artistic fervor that will simply not stop making.
The materials used by Schick are all conventional art materials, but few artists would combine them in the quantities that he does. The works displayed in the exhibition are like a record of nearly every tube of paint, stick of charcoal, marker and pencil Schick ever owned. He uses these mediums to cover the surface of the canvas over and over and over, making something more like a sculpture than a painting. One work in the second room of the gallery in particular is very sculptural. The addition of pieces of painted plastic sheets bent and curved all over the canvas and make the entire composition appear to be undulating and blistered.
“Metamorphism” is a collection of moments in time that seem to never really pause. The “scenes” in the pieces, though not really depicting any actual things, seem to embrace the ongoing moment of the present. There is also evidence of Schick’s relationship to the materials themselves. When sitting in the space with the work, the lack of definite imagery frees the viewer from being grounded to the work’s subject matter. They are then allowed to wander the space, talking in the entire body of work as a whole. Lack of subject matter doesn’t cause the works to simply become paint on canvas. Instead, it pushes them into a deeper and more thoughtful space where the viewer truly feels they are experiencing an intimate moment. “Metamorphism” will remain in the gallery until Friday, April 24.