Autobiography of a Garden on Twelve Engraved Plates
Mary Ryan Gallery is excited to present Andrew Raftery: Autobiography of a Garden on Twelve Engraved Plates, in conjunction with RYAN LEE. The artist has designed a dramatic one-wall, site-specific original print installation for the Mary Ryan Gallery booth at the Park Avenue Armory IFPDA print fair.
Raftery’s garden in Providence, Rhode Island becomes an extension of his practice in his first autobiographical body of work. He carefully plans, plants, and tends to his garden so that the arrangement of flowers and vegetables varies each year and forms intricate patterns in bloom. His print project, eight years in the making, features one ceramic plate with an original engraving for each month of the garden’s annual growth cycle. The plates are mounted onto hand-printed wallpaper, designed by the artist and block printed with an abstract pattern of mustard green leaves that recalls Victorian damask. Raftery welcomes the challenge of using an antiquated technique to treat contemporary subject matter, and he is fascinated by how prints have established visual culture since the 18th century.
The twelve engraved plates (editions of 80) have emerged as the final objects of a multistep process. Sketches, watercolor studies, scaled plaster models, and grisaille tondo paintings precede the copperplate engravings that Raftery ultimately printed onto ceramic plates, which he also designed, inspired by his personal collection of English transferware. Autobiography of a Garden on Twelve Engraved Plates, titled in tribute to Gertrude Stein’s Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, celebrates Raftery’s labor over his carefully planted garden while gently mocking his suburban American preoccupations. His self-portraits sometimes depict absurd poses, from stretching over patterned lettuce patches to reading seed catalogs in bed during winter.
Autobiography of a Garden on Twelve Engraved Plates will be presented in full at RYAN LEE from September 8 to November 5, 2016. A fully illustrated catalog will accompany the exhibition, including thoughts by artist and connoisseur Cary Leibowitz.
Andrew Stein Raftery makes pictorial narratives of contemporary American life. Trained in painting and printmaking at Boston University and Yale, he has focused on burin engraving for the past seventeen years, publishing the portfolios Suit Shopping in 2002 and Open House in 2008. His work is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Fogg Art Museum, the British Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2003, Raftery received the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and in 2008 he was a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He was elected to membership in the National Academy in 2009 and to Print Council of American in 2012. He is represented by RYAN LEE in New York, and he is a Professor of Art at Rhode Island School of Design.