This month, Reynolds Gallery debuted a new initiative called The Launch Project, which provides gallery resources and connections to emerging contemporary artists in Richmond. An exhibition from artist Sylvio Lynch III, the first of the Launch Project artists, is currently on display.
Drawn Discovery — an exhibit by Sylvio Lynch III currently on display at Reynolds Gallery — features two series of hyper-realist graphite drawings from the Richmond-based artist. Lynch is the first artist to partner with Reynolds Gallery through a new initiative called The Launch Project, which aims to spotlight the work of contemporary artists in Richmond who are outside of the traditional gallery structure.
“A little over a year ago we came up with this idea about how we can engage the Richmond community with the gallery in a different way,” Janie Hall, an associate at Reynolds Gallery, said. “We’ve always been really invested in finding emerging talent… but thinking about others in the community that are working just as hard and have major talent but might not have been discovered yet.”
Alice Livingston and Julia Monroe, directors of the gallery, spoke along with Hall about the initiative and their excitement for Drawn Discovery, which opened with an all-day reception Nov. 13.
“We’re trying to be really intentional at the gallery about breaking down barriers as best we can, and being a really inclusive and open place for Richmond and our community,” Livingston said.
Reynolds Gallery has long reached into the emerging talent pool of VCU Arts, but Livingston, Monroe, and Hall each expressed their desire to spotlight artists outside of the academic art world. They wanted someone with the level of work the gallery was accustomed to, but perhaps not able to access the resources the gallery could provide for them.
Enter Sylvio Lynch III, who learned about the project late last year and decided to give it a shot. After the gallery extended the deadline for submissions due to the pandemic, Lynch was able to put together several new pieces. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but — like many artists and non-artists alike — was looking for solid opportunities in an uncertain time.
“Being a [Richmond] native, I had heard of Reynolds Gallery,” Lynch said. “I was like okay, well I don’t know if they’re gonna like this or not, you never know. So I gave it a shot.”
Lynch’s background, which he described as a “hodgepodge of academic experience and formal training,” led him to experiences in graphic design, architecture, and illustration. He was commissioned for house portraits and did sketches and various projects, compelled towards the graphite drawing style which now adorns the walls of Reynolds Gallery.
“Probably three or four years ago is when I started to really examine my own work in a much more focused way and say okay, what kind of direction am I really going, creatively?” Lynch said. “What are the two or three different ways of creating that make sense for me, that I want to explore?”
Drawn Discovery includes Lynch’s paper series and city series, both made up of hyper-realist graphite (the material in pencils) drawings. In the paper series, Lynch renders crumpled pieces of lined paper with entrancing precision. Lynch came up with the idea while thinking about the instances in popular culture where artistic frustration or discovery is captured by discarding a piece of paper, then returning to its crinkled lines. Each piece is its own journey of indecision — abandonment, retrieval, renewal.
The city series carries similar themes, although with a wider subject matter. There’s no linear narrative to the street corners, electrical poles, and lampposts Lynch takes the viewer to. Instead, the fragmented drawings ask the question: what comes next?
“It’s my reflection on putting new eyes on familiar spaces,” Lynch said of what ties the two series together.
The reception Lynch’s works have received so far has been positive, which speaks to the power of both series. The works are also divergent from other art currently on display at the gallery.
“We don’t really have very hyper-realistic work at the gallery right now, so Sylvio’s work is really impressive in that way,” Hall said. “I think that people who come by are kind of taken aback by these small drawings that really pack a punch — they’re intimate, they’re kind of soft, and a little moody.”
It’s easy to get lost in the beguiling simplicity of Lynch’s drawings — they beg you to look closer, to ask questions, to study the seemingly mundane. Thanks to The Launch Project, many more people will be able to get lost between the lines.
Drawn Discovery will be on display at Reynolds Gallery through Dec. 23.
Top Image: Sylvio Lynch III, City 9, 2019, Graphite on Paper, 8 x 8 inches. Courtesy Reynolds Gallery.