The Fruit Vendor
Moskowitz Bayse is pleased to present The Fruit Vendor, an exhibition of new sculptures by Los Angeles-based artist Ryan Flores. The Fruit Vendor is the artist’s first solo presentation at the gallery, and will be on view from November 12 - December 22, 2022. We will host an opening reception on November 12 from 5 - 8 pm.
Ryan Flores’ ceramic sculptures, tableaux and wall works float between seduction and repulsion, drawing the viewer in with the promise of bounty and sustenance before offering rot, decay, and spoil in equal measure.
Close looking at Flores’ arrays of withering produce reveal the artist’s command of material; glazes interact, crackling and oozing over and into one another as multiple firings approximate the processes of cellular death inherent to food spoilage. In one work, a large papaya, hewn in half to reveal its roe-like seeds, sheds running layers of greenish-yellow rind and sunset-flesh down its smooth front. In another, pockmarked dragon fruit innards stew together like some frantic, primordial petri dish.
Thematically and formally linked to traditions of still-life painting as carriers of coded meaning, Flores’ works become frozen in colliding moments of transformation: flatness becomes bodily and dimensional, rind and flesh begin to putrefy, and beauty slumps toward threat.
The exhibition’s title, The Fruit Vendor, refers in part to two paintings, executed three-and-a-half centuries apart. The first, The Fruit Vendor, by the anonymous Italian Baroque painter known as Pensionante Del Saraceni, shows the eponymous merchant arguing with an exasperated young woman over the price of the melon in his hand. A second watermelon, neatly sliced in half and beginning to decompose, stares out at the viewer: a pale pink planet, a slice of spongy brain tissue, and an unmistakable invocation of death. The second work is Mexican-German painter Olga Costa’s 1955 La Vendedora de Frutas which, oppositely, finds its inviting protagonist at ease and satisfied among her lovingly arrayed stand. Here, fruit affirms life, as even the already-opened fruits remain fresh and unwilted, for now.
For Flores, fruit stands as both subject matter and metaphor. The wide variance in species and strains allows for infinite applications of intricate glazing and surface quality, while the very fact of fruit’s transient biology serves as a foil for the medium itself. Ceramic does not rot – it promises stability and consistency. Here, the artist’s fruits are caught in permanent states of change: plucked from the kiln at just the right moment, before their flesh can completely turn.