Ryder Ripps is one of those formidable artists who have an innate ability to do many things, work with different media and do it all really, really well. I got acquainted with his work when Postmasters Gallery gave him a solo show at the beginning of the year. The exhibition, entitled “Ho,” featured large-scale, distorted paintings of Instagram model Adrianne Ho.
This show, of course, was my entry point with Ryder when I visited him in his Long Island City studio last week. “Is she your friend?” I asked Ryder candidly, to which he answered: “Not at all, I think she believes I must be a freak, like someone obsessed with her, and for the record, I’m not. There is something about her Instagram posts that make her look so contrived. Everything is so staged and planned and there is this whole story about her healthy lifestyle, but there is so much production into each of the pictures that they make me really uncomfortable. Her pictures produce in me a different reaction than what they are meant to accomplish; there’s nothing natural or fresh about them.”
Right after the success of “Ho” came "Alone Together" at Red Bull Studios in Chelsea, where Ryder created a site-specific installation around the ambitious idea of deconstructing social media. He hired people to surf the web for seven hours each day for four days a week, and the images and other digital content that came out of the searches were fed to the audience through eyeholes carved out of a giant shipping crate.
Being a prolific conceptual artist doesn’t seem sufficient enough for Ryder, who also owns OK Focus, a digital agency that has created campaigns for Diesel and Kenzo, among other brands. As we go through some of the visuals in his computer, he also shows me the “Overlayer” app he designed that is a nod to humor and social media in the digital age. Overlayer allows the user to upload their own picture onto a variety of hilarious overlay images: classical photos of Seinfeld, a crying Kim Kardashian (this one was my idea and he uploaded it in a nanosecond), or cheesy quotes that becomes suddenly sarcastic and witty once the image in the background changes.
I love how funny and how interesting Ryder is, how he is just doing his thing and not caring much about what people think or say. This attitude and his work have been getting noticed - not only did The New York Times profiled him last summer, but Details Magazine has just included him on the list of Eight Emerging Artists to Watch. I wanted to keep asking Ryder questions and look at images in his computer and honestly didn’t want to leave because I was having so much fun. Then I realized that this happens to me every time I find a gem.