Ryan Travis Christian

© Courtesy of Ryan Travis Christian and cadet capela

Born in 1983, Oakland, CA
Lives and works in Chicago, Illinois

Ryan Travis Christian’s upbringing in suburban Chicago in the 1990s offered absurd experiences, which he uses as fuel for the surreal personal narratives of his pop-culture-influenced graphite drawings.

Impacted by Chicago-style figuration, Christian focuses on the paradoxical relationship between childlike cartoons and disturbing messages, meditating on the technological and material obsolescence of his inspiration. Vintage political cartoons and hand-drawn animations influence Christian’s detailed vignettes - notably by Ub Iwerks, George Condo and The Hairy Who - Christian reconciles himself with the sordid past of his sources while embracing their richness and flavor.

Christian carefully and densely layers graphite to reveal high-contrast graphics and dizzying patterns; undulating figures are rendered in slow motion, living among misty landscapes and melting fences. He exposes the messy lifestyle of contemporary humanity through a wide range of subjects and images; the economy, environment, sex, class, hope and doubt are considered along with drugs, heavy petting, alcohol, violence, depression, death and the afterlife.

Christian’s recent work has expanded to comment on current national and global crises: his historical precedents become mirrors reflecting the common concerns of the present. Text is prevalent in Christian’s work, coming mainly from personal notes on conversations or encounters that have stuck around long enough to remain relevant to him and follow the caliber of its source.

Curriculum vitae

Solo and two-person exhibitions
  • 2022
    Ruff Times Lately, cadet capela, Paris, FR
  • 2021
    Fall Apart In My Backyard, Halsey McKay Gallery, New York, US
  • Cryin Ryan, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • 2020
    Here Comes The Rooster, Over The Influence, Hong Kong, HK
  • Bang Bang Play, Galleria Javier Lopez & Fer Frances, Madrid, ES
  • 2019
    Danger is my maiden name, Ross+Kramer Gallery, New York, US
  • Big baldy etc, Arsham/Feig Gallery, New York, US
  • 2018
    I’m Picking Up Where the California Raisins Left Off, Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, US
  • 2017
    This Shit is for the Birdies, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • Joakim Ojanen and Ryan Travis Christian, The Hole, New York, US
  • 2015
    Ryan Travis Christian & T.L. Solien, Left Field, San Luis Obispo, CA, US
  • 2014
    Check please!, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • That Ain’t Jazz, Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, US
  • 2013
    Well, Here We Aren’t Again, Contemporary Art Museum, Raleigh, NC, US
  • American Landscapes and Stuff, Trailer Park Proyects, Puerto Rico, PR
  • 2012
    The Second Banana, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco CA, US
  • Something Something Black Something, Halsey McKay Gallery, East Hampton NY, US
  • John Riepenhoff Experience Presents - RTC Collaborates, Pepin Moore, Los Angeles CA, US
  • It Ain’t Conceptual , CooperCole, Toronto ON, CA
  • 2011
    River Rats/RTC Collaborates, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • Sad Sacks, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • 2010
    Well, Time Makes Fools of Us All, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • New Work, POV Evolving, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Antexspagna, Ebers Moore, Chicago, IL, US
  • Weed demon, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
Group exhibitions
  • 2023
    Twice upon a time, Akrilyc, Brussels, BE
  • Twice upon a time, Akrilyc, London, GB
  • The Western Exhibitions Drawing Biennal, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • 2022
    HEY! LE DESSIN, curated by HEY!, Musée de la Halle Saint Pierre, Paris, FR
  • 2021
    London’s burning, Ramp Gallery, London, GB
  • My Sweet Doppelgänger, Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, US
  • Summer Summer Group Show, Ross+Kramer Gallery, New York, US
  • Nature Morte, The Hole, New York, US
  • The Western Exhibitions Drawing Biennal, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • 2020
    Allegory of Painting, curated by William Leung, Woaw gallery, Hong Kong, HK
  • BLUNT!, cadet capela, Paris, FR
  • Extra Time , curated by Case Studyo, Plus-One Gallery, Antwerp, BE
  • We used to gather, Library Street Collective, Detroit, MI, US
  • ZOO, MIMA Museum, Brussels, BE
  • 2019
    Digital Print Show, Washington Art Association & Gallery, Washington Depot, CT, US
  • With a Capital P: Selections by Six Painters, Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, IL, US
  • Paper View, The Hole, New York, US
  • ART IS WHERE THE HEART IS VOL. 5, Galerie Droste, Paris, FR
  • 2018
    Sweet, Golden and Delicious, NIU Art Museum, DeKalb, IL, US
  • Alive with pleasure! , Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York, US
  • Immersion, Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica, CA, US
  • 2017
    Hide And Go Chic , Rover Gallery, Chicago, IL, US
  • Unapologetic Drawing, Loyola University Chicago, Ralph Arnold Gallery, Chicago, IL, US
  • Heatwave , Granite City Art and Design District (G-CADD), Granite City, IL, US
  • Zing Zam Blunder, Harbinger Projects, Reykjavik, IS
  • Fake News , CES Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Underlying system is not known, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • The Nothing That Is: A Drawing Show in 5 Parts, curated by Matt Distel and Bill Thelen, The Carnegie, Covington, KY, US
  • Periscope, Able Baker Contemporary, Portland, ME, US
  • Ocotillio, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA, US
  • 2016
    Em Kettner, Kyle Breitenbach, and Ryan Travis Christian, Harpy Gallery, Rutherford, NJ, US
  • Quiet Please, The Inn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Velvet Ropes , GIFC Worldwide, New York, NY, US
  • LTD Wear , LVL3, Chicago, IL, US
  • Thick As Paper Thin, Brilliant Champions, Brooklyn, NY, US
  • Geo Necro , Ada Gallery, Richmond VA, US
  • 6/2016, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • 2015
    Gatherings & Conversations, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • White House Black Market , Kimberly-Klark, Queens, NY, US
  • Mysterious Muck, Circuit 12 Contemporary, Dallas, TX, US
  • Fence , Threewalls, Chicago, IL, US
  • Happily Until Their Deaths, Narwhal Contemporary, Toronto, ON, CA
  • Who Me?, curated by Daniel Albrigo, Atak Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Irving Variety, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Selfie , curated by Husk Mit Navn, Gallery Steinsland Berliner, Stockholm, SE
  • The Nothing That Is – a drawing show in five parts, curated by Bill Thelen, CAM, Raleigh, NC, US
  • That’s My Trip, curated by Andrew Shoultz, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, US
  • Inaugural Group Show , Left Field, San Luis Obispo, CA, US
  • PRTY PPL, curated by Josh Reames, Circuit 12 Contemporary, Dallas, TX, US
  • Group Show, ChinaTown Project, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Interface, Water Street Studios, Aurora IL, US
  • Potshop , Tusk, Chicago IL, US
  • Jug Life, Park Life, San Francisco, CA, US
  • 2014
    Deluxe Projects LA/CHI presents: Pareidolia, Red Pipe Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Rocket Run: Abstraction from Chicago , Nebraska Wesleyan University, Elder Gallery, Lincoln, NE, US
  • I’m Jealous Of Your Failure, University Galleries, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, US
  • We do what we like and we like what we do, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • Head, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • Buying Friends , UICA, Grand Rapids, MI, US
  • Ghooost Show IV, Imagination Giants, Milwaukee, WI, US
  • If They Mated, The Honey Hole, Chicago, IL, US
  • Home At Last , Andres Guerrero Project, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Juxtapoz Psychedelic Release Party, The Well, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Welp, Bowbarr, Carrboro, NC, US
  • 2013
    Tell them I hate them , Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, US
  • Group Show, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • These Friends, Finale , THIS Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Milestone #1, Circuit 12 Contemporary, Dallas, TX, US
  • 2012
    Pig Party 8.3, curated by Gina Beavers, Bowery, New York, NY, US
  • Black Foliage 2.0, Nudashank, Baltimore, MD, US
  • Black Foliage, Chinatown Arcade, New York, NY, US
  • Gin & Juice, Ivory & Black, London, GB
  • Still Here Now, Mohs Exhibit, Copenhagen, DK
  • Cigarettes, Phone Cards, & Hip Hop Clothing , FFDG, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Living By Example, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, IL, US
  • 2011
    Group Show, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Double Breaks, Double Break, San Diego, CA, US
  • Art We Like, Deer Run, Cambria, CA, US
  • This Place In Time , Show and Tell Gallery, Toronto, ON, CA
  • Club Nutz, Art Since the Summer of 69’, New York, US
  • Domestic Goods, curated by Ryan Wallace, Eric Firestone Gallery, East Hampton, NY, US
  • New Chicagoans, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago, IL, US
  • Chain Letter , Samson Projects, Boston, MA, US
  • Territories, Marwen, Chicago, IL, US
  • SweatBoxing, MAMA, Rotterdam, NL
  • Objectivity , Cornish College for the Arts, Seattle, WA, US
  • Heads on Poles, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • 2010
    AH! Wilderness , Ebers Moore, Chicago, IL, US
  • Wreck The Walls , Subliminal Projects, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • A Guide to Salvation , curated by Hilary Pecis, Space 1026, Philadelphia, PA, US
  • Weed Demon, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Paper! Awesome!, Baer Ridgway Projects, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Inaugural Exhibition, Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Diverse Chorus , SCOOP, Charleston, SC, US
  • 2009
    Infinity, Scion Installation, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • East of Eden, Synchronicity, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Enigmatic Shadow, Synchronicity, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • CaBoom, Synchronicity, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • 2008
    Titanium Expose, FFDG, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Chimera Frontiera, Junc Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • NFO XPO/Version Fest, Chicago, IL, US
  • 2007
    Mutation Nation, D.I.Y. Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • Brown River, Roots & Culture Contemporary Arts Center, Chicago, IL, US
  • KlusterCrusts, Butcher Shop/Dogmatic, Chicago, IL, US
  • 2006
    Where All the D*cks Hang Out, Western Exhibitions, Chicago, IL, US
  • Rudolph Projects, Houston, TX, US
  • 2023
    Taipei Dangdai Art Fair, Woaw gallery, Taipei, TW
  • 2021
    NADA Miami, Western Exhibitions, Miami, US
  • 2018
    Art Fair, The Porch Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, US
  • Artist Book Collection, SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA, US
  • Artist Book Collection, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA, US
  • Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL, US
  • Jager Collection, Amsterdam, NL
  • McHenry County College, Crystal Lake, IL, US
  • Soho House, Chicago, IL, US
  • Colecciōn Solo, Madrid, ES
  • 2017
    Everything is legal, (Monograph), Perfectly Acceptable Press, Chiacgo, IL, US
  • 2011
    Land and Sea #8, Land and Sea
  • 2009
    Beautiful/Decay: What A Mess, Beautiful/Decay
  • Infinity, Scion, Los Angeles, CA, US
  • 2007
    KlusterCRUSTS, The Chicago Reader
  • 2007
    BFA, Northern Illinois University, US