Rob Ryan, the art of the knife
Robert Ryan is a paper-cutter of genius who has single-handedly reinvented an art that lapsed in Western Europe somewhere in the nineteenth century. In common with my other favourite paper-cutter Hans Christian Andersen, he invests the idiosyncratic visual vocabulary of folk art with his own personal sensibility.
Unlike Andersen, Rob Ryan has a wide range of modern technology at his disposal to reproduce his designs on tiles, mugs, plates, vases, glasses, skirts, bags, rainwear, cushions and tape, not to mention innumerable book jackets, illustrations, posters, calendars and cards - and also famously the cover of Japanese Vogue.
If you know Rob Ryan’s work through reproductions, it is easy to forget the immense skill and painstaking work that goes into the making of it, which becomes vividly apparent when you see the actual papercuts. Take the opportunity to go along to Ryantown (Ryan’s shop in Columbia Road) where, until 15th November, he has returned to the purist roots of paper-cutting with an entire show of works in black and white. And if you fancy a trip to Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen’s papercuts (including the one below) are on permanent display at the City Museum in Odense.