Contemporary artist Ryan Callanan called into Brighton last week and left his British big beat mark on our gallery. Ahead of a major new solo exhibition at our sister gallery ink_d, Callanan has created an incredible street art piece showcasing the very best of his rare sign writing skills and his signature lyric art.
The bold black and yellow work features the words ‘Right Here Right Now’. ‘Right Here, Right Now’, of course, is a major record by the legendary Brightonian Fatboy Slim. It was released in April 1999 and Ryan’s appropriation of the song in this piece is born from his interest in text, words and lyrics, as well as his blossoming collaborative relationship with the DJ. The uber-cool urban duo recently worked together to create ‘Acid Drop’, a massive party to celebrate the 30th birthday of dance and clubbing magazine ‘Mixmag’, which included dropping 100+ unique signed and numbered smiley artworks on the streets of East London.
Ryan Callanan began incorporating lyrics from his childhood and youth in his art several years ago. The musical sources have been diverse and have included some classic 1990s hip hop, such as ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ [Cash Rules Everything Around Me] by New York group Wu-Tang Clan, and ‘Insane in the Brain’ by American hip hop group Cypress Hill (from which the popular lyric ‘Insane in the membrane’ comes). The response to these highly original and poetic pieces has been incredible with music producers and writers buying up whole editions and heavy interest from major record labels.
Callanan’s upcoming solo show will be a development of his lyric work, continuing to explore their personal and cultural significance, as well as the opportunity they provide him to stretch his artistic process. Ryan Callanan worked as a professional 3D sign writer and has now reinvented and elevated the traditional art of sign writing into a contemporary art form. Working with materials, techniques and styles usually associated with traditional pub signs (bas-relief, glass, resin etc.), his artwork demonstrates highly technical skills.
In this street art piece you can see that Callanan used a stencil and spray paint to create the composition and base layer. Then each chiselled letter was drawn, shaded and highlighted by his own very steady hand. The accuracy and consistency of the lettering has been achieved from his years of sign writing, training his eye to see perfect spacing and construct the sharpest shading. The signature smiley faces of his nom de plume RYCA, were hand drawn with a trusty black marker.
Under the glare of the scorching Brighton sun and curious crowds there wasn’t any room for error for the dedicated artist who dexterously whipped up this new street art gem. The wall of the Brighton gallery is now a proud testament to his incredible sign writing skills, perfectionism, and acute ability to record popular culture. Ryan Callanan’s work is certainly worthy of admiration and a closer look.
Courtesy of Gareth Gooch Photography 2013