Ryan Lessam felt the need to create from an early age. After high school, this need resulted in taking Audio Engineering courses in Orlando, Florida. He graduated first in his class and headed straight to New York City where he first worked at Quad Recordings Studio.
When he first arrived in New York, Lessam slept in one of Quad’s recording studios. Lessam worked in the dynamic hip hop music industry in New York City from 1997 to 2005. Along with working at Quad, Lessam was a freelance engineer at Unique Recordings and the world famous Hit Factory. His success allowed him to open his own recording studio, The Padded Room, in Manhattan’s Garment District.
Even while producing, engineering, mentoring and managing talented artists for many years, Lessam still felt he wanted to create something by himself from start to finish.
In Chicago, in 2014, he took a class at Lillstreet Art Center to gain some painting knowledge and began making abstractions that reflected his admiration for Jackson Pollock and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
His early work also contained a celebration of child-like imagery and technique inspired by darker Cy Twombly or Joan Miro. An exuberance of expression is consistent in all his work. Whether relating a heavy, meaning-laden communication of rage, anger, depression or communicating wistful, humorous moods, Lessam’s paintings all possess an energy of creation that is visceral. Earlier pieces almost consistently used intensely lettered words that contribute to the mood of wildly layered colors, forms, fields, splotches and anything that Lessam was feeling, eating or drinking.
Lessam’s technique is so exuberant and expressive that the spaces he paints in are unintentional art works themselves. The walls, ceilings and floors are covered with drips, streaks, splashes that relate the energy Lessam brings to his art.
His latest work contains a maturity that combines expressionism with a subtle hint of implied realism. The canvases are a joy of color and movement that can be appreciated like an opera in a foreign language. You don’t have to understand the opera’s language to feel the sadness, joy, anger, humor or depression. The recent work created by Lessam while on sabbatical in Ohio builds from the excitement of earlier works and has a confidence that creates art that can be reflected on and enjoyed implicitly. But when you read the title, you realize Lessam has captured a whispy spirit of the real world in his painting.
A comparison can be made to Turner’s masterful paintings of ships in a foggy sea where you can barely make out the ship through the beautifully abstract fog. Whereas Turner started with realistic ships in the center of the canvas and in the upper corners beautiful abstract clouds that eventually engulfed the ships, Lessam starts with abstract beauty that eventually reveals an idea of realism. An interesting twist.
And unlike a band that has only one groove in all of its’ songs, Lessam has a variety of styles that are alike in their energy and power, but different in style and form.
Lessam’s latest work shows a naturally progression from his energetic beginnings and promises there will be more to observe and enjoy as he continutes to fulfill his life-long desire to create.
Michael Bordenaro, Chicago, August 2020
For inquires about purchasing art, booking shows, contact Ryan Lessam at: firstname.lastname@example.org