Ryan Travis Christian's wicked imagination, vivid imagery, and clever revisions of vintage style are irresistible, so, no doubt we're excited about his upcoming debut at Madrid's Galería Javier López & Fer Francés. A preview of the work promises more comic, crafty characters skipping and skidding through life.

The Illinois-based artist, a wizard with graphite, creates a fuzzy dust-up where images bust out of the norm in razor-sharp patterns and shapes. His subjects spring from an otherworldly dreamscape, while hauntingly familiar. Gleeful, maniacal expressions accompany unfettered fantasies. "The drawings in the show continue to explore a lot of the same notions as other work I’ve been making for the last couple of years: violence, sex, sexuality, the notion of home, nonsense, etc. I titled the show Bang Bang Play as an obvious reference to all the gun drawings, but also as a double entendre for how quickly I made the exhibition; 28 pieces in about four weeks. Bang-bang play is a baseball term referring to the ultra-fast execution of a defensive play."

RYCH B BLOCK 2019. Graphite on paper. 18 x 255 cm 7 x 10 in

With that sports reference and homage to the hand-drawn cartoons of the 1930s, the work has an American flavor, but the subjects, satire, and emotions are universal. From its impactful title and incredible cast of characters and settings, all the way to the impossible narratives, Christian renders perspective, surface and light, while building setting and narrative with familiar symbols, iconic movements and genres of the time.

Using vintage styles to speak more of contemporary themes and language, the artist composes fantastical, but endearing miniatures, steadily balancing shock, provocation, humor, and sadness. "I’m showing a lot of small work again. I can run through and flesh out ideas in them quickly. I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and as I mentioned before–I think I’ve nearly exhausted this way of working and will likely change pace in a big way for my next project."

RYCH NFA SKELETON CUM 2019. Graphite on paper. 18 x 255 cm 7 x 10 in

Bang Bang Play opens at the gallery's new space in the Chamberí district of Madrid on February 28, 2020, coinciding with the gallery's participation in ARCOmadrid 2020. The new location is said to be "representing artists who stand out on the current art scene for the impact of their work and the fresh language and alternative approaches they offer." Christian's graphite creations deliver Sasha Bogojev

All images courtesy of the artist and Galería Javier López & Fer Francés, Madrid.