—Doug Harvey LA Weekly, "Travel Postcards"
In her latest body of work, Sharon Ryan continues to explore the boundaries between improvisation and design, the veiled and revealed, deep psychology and surface decoration. Ryan’s trademark sinuous linework also remains, but has mutated into a dense black filigree that partially masks and reconfigures the found vernacular photography beneath it. These are tourist postcards collected during the artist’s frequent road trips-often to see particular rock bands perform.
This musical connection is reflected in the drawings themselves, as Ryan has equated her semi-automatic line with the art of the improvised guitar solo, and identifies the handheld intimacy of the postcards with the lost pleasures of LP record sleeve contemplation. This is less of a pop cultural reference than it sounds, though. Ryan’s other touchstone is the Book of Kells, a 1200-year-old Irish illuminated gospel filled with extravagant and grotesque imagery.
Occupying a similar territory of spiritually-tinged optical obsessiveness, Ryan’s postcards are small portals into another world, partially concealed by a convoluted organic grillwork, and suffused with equal doses of nightmarish foreboding and glittering promise – a world where every industrial portrait of a rickety tourist trap is transformed into a seething stained glass rendition of nine-dimensional Gaudi architecture or a blacklight poster of Rousseau’s jungle.
—Mindy Farabee Los Angeles Times, “A postcard doodler crisscrosses L.A.”
It was, at one point, a photograph of Hollywood Boulevard. . . .What this darkly embellished postcard has become under the pen of Sharon Ryan is one stop on a moody tour of the artist's Los Angeles in [her] ’Wish You Were Here” show. . . .When it comes to art and the human subconscious, few straight lines can be drawn. But Ryan's signature squiggles, the free-ﬂowing forms she's layered for years onto paper, Polaroids and now postcards, must also claim some roots in the family tree. . . .Surrounded by parents and siblings who speak Irish, steeped in Latin masses, cathedral stained glass and the storytelling gene ﬁrmly embedded in the Celtic character, she knowingly folds such elements into her works, though rarely literally. . . .Take [the postcards’] oblique references to the vibrantly mazy, densely ornamented Book of Kells, lreland‘s celebrated ninth-century illuminated manuscript. "What I love about it is the beautifully intricate mark making," she says. That and its distinct style of visual storytelling, rich with detail.
—Leah Ollman Art in America
In her serene, sensual way, L.A. based Sharon Ryan reinvests the private doodle with intimacy, eroticism and the fluid yearnings of the unconscious. Ryan's exquisite, melodic lines echo the grain and meander beyond its given patterns into pendulous, biomorphic shapes, sometimes suggesting breasts, nipples or phalluses. Reminiscent of the Surrealists’ automatic drawings, Ryan’s paintings also bring to mind Rorschach inkblots. Both invite a raw response, direct from the unconscious. There’s a playful quality to the exercise, akin to pointing out recognizable shapes in the passing clouds, or, as Leonardo did, using the power of the imagination to summon figures from water stains on the wall. Ryan's line has a siren’s song quality to it - seductive, elusive, utterly graceful. It curls and flows lithely, sinuously. It can evoke craggy mountains one moment, spidery cilia the next. This potent, distilled line has characterized all of her work in the few years she has been exhibiting. . . .The paintings, are phantasmagorically alive, their fine ribbons of line vacillating between chance and intention.
—William Wilson Los Angeles Times
Sharon Ryan makes Minimalism sing in nine lovely small works on birch plywood. Infused with the spirit of Asia, at first they look like virgin blocks for elaborate Japanese prints. Then we realize she's left them all but untouched. She goes in with a calligraphy brush and one muted color to emphasize curves in the grain, teasing out shapes suggestive of everything from leaves to genitalia and monsters of the mind. The work is a triumph of delicate restraint and lyrical wit.
—Susan Kandel Los Angeles Times
Sharon Ryan's solo show is equal parts flash and elegance. Racy doodles proliferate across the surface of unpainted birch panels and from the looks of things, Ryan knows her way around metamorphoses: Lima beans hanging from threads become stray vaginas, eyeballs caught in tweezers morph into salmon pushing against the current, and hairy organisms alternately court paranoia and winks. . . . There are in-jokes aplenty here, and the one about the work’s pressing physicality is probably the best. The liquid brushwork is bruisingly sensual, and the way it responds to the grain of the panels upon which it is superimposed accents its excitability. Ryan has picked the ideal support: Un-painted birch has never looked so naked.
—Carol Adelman Art Access Seattle
Resembling insects, protozoa, body openings and generative cells all at once, the body and sexual references appear, transform, invert themselves and disappear into musical abstraction.
—Christopher Knight Los Angeles Times
Titled "Garden," this quietly lovely show puts spare, abstract means to elusive, complex ends. Ryan seems intent on splitting the difference between what's natural and what’s man-made; the result emphasizes that art is inescapably’ both.