Ryan Presley

Brisbane QLD
  • Maneater  2012
    Silk-cut linoleum print on 
Magnani paper
    Dimensions: 55 x 52 cm (framed)
    Courtesy of the artist
    Photography: Mick Richards
  • The Good Shepherd  2014
    Woodcut
    Dimensions: 87 x 132 cm (framed)
    Courtesy of the artist
    
Photography: Mick Richards
  • Good Co-op, Bad Cop  2011
    Silk-cut linoleum print on 
Magnani paper
    Dimensions: 105 x 76 cm (framed)
    Courtesy of the artist
    
Photography: Mick Richards

This piece plays upon the ‘good cop/bad cop’ cliché that has contributed so much to our enjoyment of certain films and television shows. It is a joy to be able to consume gore and violence without an accompanying sense of shame, in the knowledge that we do not always savour what we know inside to be right, or even OK.

The grand narrative of carnage and abuse being a virtue when exercised towards the greater good in the name of justice, elates us and overpowers our wordless and baser aversions towards the unapologetic use of violence and domination upon fellow people. This grand narrative, although it encourages worthy ideals, can have the effect of hindering our ability to navigate moral responsibility and develop a capacity for empathy in our daily lives. For the incidents of reality are complex and painful; they are not subject to the blunt and comforting moral generalisations of our grand narratives.

Which shark is ‘good cop’ and which shark is ‘bad cop’? Is ‘good cop’ swallowing ‘bad cop’ or is ‘bad cop’ overwhelming ‘good cop’? As much as the concept of dedicated citizens performing a constant vigil against injustice towards others in their society is well–meaning and commendable, any such high ideal is too blunt and ingrained with self–vindication. It protects the ‘protectors of justice’ from the scrutiny of justice. We must not be afraid to scrutinise ‘good cop’, we must not be afraid to look into their wholesome, clear–cut face and discover that the hero has been lost. Over–confident faith in a flawed system creates a safe haven for precedent and continuation of injustice.

Ryan Presley
Artist statement, 2014

I like to work with woodblocks because of the long history of woodblocks being used for religious artwork. It was used to promote Christian ideals as it was one of the first print–making techniques.

I like icon artworks because of the bold imagery and the power of the epic and very emotively constructed images about power relations; and the colour schemes are very striking. Christianity melds with different themes and takes on different traits when looking at the Australian context and how it has been used in different ways over the years.

Ryan Presley
South Brisbane, 14 November 2013

Ryan Presley, 2014
Photography: Michael Aird