Cut out and keep: The artist behind the intricate paper works romancing the world with emotionally-charged messages

Cut out and keep: The artist behind the intricate paper works romancing the world with emotionally-charged messages

|

UPDATED:

21:02 GMT, 20 September 2012

With fairytale-like silhouettes and emotionally-charged words, Rob Ryan's stunningly detailed papercuts have made him a firm favourite with art-collecting A-listers such as Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton.

Now, as his works go on display in New York for the first time, the British artist has revealed how he came to develop his distinctive signature style.

Cutting an intricate design from paper might appear an unforgiving medium to the rest of us, requiring intense attention to detail and little opportunity for error, however for Mr Ryan, 50, it evolved very naturally.

Rob Ryan

Sweet relief: Rob Ryan's intricate paper cut artworks have gone on display in New York for the first time

'The thing is, I have always been a paper guy, I was never drawn by the allure of paint on canvas,' he told MailOnline.

'It always seemed so drawn out and
convoluted, all that stretching and priming of the canvas before you
could even get started – why not just pick up a piece of paper and GO!'

'Less was more, instead of adding I took away, and what was left
was what I wanted to say'

A degree of impatience played a part,
he admits, as a teenager he had a lot to say and paper was always cheap
and easily available.

'I was a child of punk – it hit me like a
hammer when I was 14 in 1977,' he recalls. 'My ethos was if you couldn't say it
in three minutes then it probably wasn't worth saying in the first
place.'

He explained that
cutting designs in paper developed from printmaking techniques such as
screen-printing, which he had been deeply into at one stage.

Rob Ryan

Romantic: The artist marries fairytale-like scenes with emotive words in each of his works

Rob Ryan

Sharp imagination: Though detail might be the word that springs to mind when looking at one of Mr Ryan's creations, he says it is the simplicity of the medium that so appeals to him

'It's a medium of layers, and I started
reducing it, stripping it down to just one layer,' he said. 'It really wasn't too
far a leap to just start cutting out from the paper feather than putting
something on it.'

Less is more: Artist Rob Ryan pictured at work in his studio

Less is more: Artist Rob Ryan pictured in his studio

But
though detail might be the word that springs to mind when looking at
one of Mr Ryan's creations, it is the simplicity of the medium that so
appeals to him.

'Cutting from paper reduced so many more
decisions, there's no tone, no light, no shadows, almost no perspective,' he explained.

'This reduction of decisions allowed me to concentrate on the emotional
impact of the work, something that was always at the forefront of what I
did and do.'

The
new exhibition, at the SOHOTEL Artspace Gallery, coincides with the
release of a U.S. wall calendar, published by Rizzoli, and displays the original paper cuts that formed the basis for the 12 images chosen.

One shows a bird facing a boy on a
fence, with the words: 'Your job is to take this world apart and then
put it back together again… BUT EVEN BETTER!!!'

Another shows a couple kissing as they swing from trees, reading: 'Our adventure is about to begin.'

Though the prints are beautiful and collectors' items in their own right, to look at one of the original 20×20-inch paper cuts is another experience entirely.

Rob Ryan papercut

In silhouette: The shadows created by the relief of the two paper layers, and slight curls of the cut-out shapes, lend an almost sculptural drama that cannot exist in a flat work

Rob Ryan

Emotionally-charged: One of the works on display in New York depicts a couple kissing as they swing from trees, reading, 'Our adventure is about to begin'

The shadows created by the relief of the two paper layers, and slight curls of the cut-out shapes, lend an almost sculptural drama that cannot exist in a flat work.

'Because everything is cut from one piece of paper
here was a world where image and text could coexist equally on the same
plane,' Mr Ryan said.

'Less was more, instead of adding I took away, and what was left
was what I wanted to say.'

The Rob Ryan exhibition is on at the SOHOTEL Artspace Gallery, 345 Broome Street, New York until September 30. For more information visit Tagfinearts.com