Realism and Surrealism. Ryl Mandus: Paintings, Drawings, and Whims



Art is an intimate language that speaks on deep and primal levels, and it never says the same things to any two people.  The symbols and stories hold different meanings for each who pauses to gaze and wonder.  I try to connect with the viewer through imagery, while  playing with metaphors and taking phrases out of context, and stirring up the senses all for its own sake.  It's visual wordplay, where a slip of the tongue becomes a stroke of the brush.
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I have vague, nebulous reasons to suspect I was stolen from Gypsies as an infant.  Once I ran away to join the circus, but it had already gone home to Montreal. 

Having ADD -- labelled by dullards inconvenienced by their own boringness -- is something I've come to regard an asset.  I'm still discovering ways to exploit it.  It lets me multi-task, and think both divergently and tangentially.  Pills were suggested, typically by People-With-No-Patience for People-With-Short-Attention-Spans.  But, really -- come on now, how can my taking a pill possibly make a someone else more interesting?  Life is too short for such nonsense.


I went to two different universities, and quickly realized each time that I wasn't keen on jumping through fiery hoops just for a bit of sheepskin and bragging rights -- yeah, you'd think I'd learned my lesson the first time, right?  But no-ooo, not me.

Long before I could get to any of the interesting or useful courses in the degree programs, I had to drop out because of all the insanely expensive and time consuming prerequisites, that demanded their own sets of prerequisites, that had absolutely nothing to do with what I wanted to learn,...

... I wouldn't even get to the good stuff for at least two years.  Two freakin' years.  Nuts to that.

 Again, life is short.  As a consequence I elected to  study the subjects of my choice independently.  So, when it comes to making any kind of art, I'm entirely self taught -- which means I get all the credit, but it also means I get all the blame.

It's a Hopi belief that knowledge is not given -- it must be earned, and the hard way at that.  No one can hand skill or knowledge to me.  It will always come down to personal effort.  As Leonardo da Vinci put it, "I am a disciple of Experience."

Much of my imagery is drawn from my own dreams and nightmares.  Humanity's lost, forbidden and obscured histories have always called to me -- this drives my zeal for research, which leads me to find remarkable parallels between the various world mythologies -- and then I try to peel back the veneers imposed upon civilization and the human psyche to see what lies beneath them, working to decipher what I find there using the tools of symbol, metaphor, and archetype.

A few who've influenced me in my artwork:  Arthur Rackham, Drew Struzan, Rick BerryAnne Bachelier
, Bill Sienkiewicz, Adnan Karabay, Akira Blount, Nancy Wiley, Brian Froud, Cirque du Soleil, Gustav Klimt, the whole Belle Epoque, Chuck Jones, Carl Barks, Hergé, N.C.Wyeth, Charles M. Russell, Franklin Booth, H.J.Ford, Edmund Dulac, J.C.Leyendecker, Guillermo Del Toro, Yoshitaka Amano -- yeah, kinda all over the place.  But like Mame said, "Life is a banquet, and most poor bastards are starving to death!"

I used to sign my works CSM but now I sign them RYL (in case you were wondering about that).  It isn't an 'artist thing', it's just a matter of personal evolution and the endless, inexorable search for Self.

Types of professional work I've done commercially:  privately commissioned portraiture; t-shirts and  graphic designs for SF/F conventions and fencing tournaments; fashion illustrations for indie clothing designers; 'house portraits'; RPG collectible cards, cover art, interior illustrations for gaming companies; custom mask design and creation for both legitimate theatre and private masquerades; et cetera.

Over the years I've received a couple dozen awards for my creations -- both in visual arts and leather masks -- much of which are now in private collections around the globe. 

I could look it all up and eventually drop a few score names to impress or bore you, but in all candor I'm more interested in striding forward and creating new works, than I am in lounging about languidly upon my alleged laurels.

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Copyright © Ryl Mandus.  All rights reserved.

But often, in the world's most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,

There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire

Into the mystery of this heart which beats

So wild, so deep in us -- to know

Whence our lives come and where they go.

-- Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
Poet and critic, Oxford University

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