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Anxiety art - Triptych - 3 paintings titled Irrational Exuberance 1999

Anxiety art Triptych, titled Irrational Exuberance 1999
— all three paintings shown together — 8ft x 4ft

Conceptual artist Dennis Ryan — anxiety art

The anxiety art paintings seen above conceptualize on psychological disorders, specifically anxiety. Uncontrollable anxious behavior is the umbrella that houses other main concepts in this art, such as obsessive compulsive disorder and phobias. This series is ongoing and growing in the artist's mind daily. In fact, the only challenge for Dennis is keeping up with the flow of intangible ideas in a tangible fashion such as drawing or painting. At this point the paintings are mostly on wood panels with medium of oils, acrylics, Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol, Windex®, Liquin, resin and adhered plastic.

Color, line and simplicity are staples for expression in these artworks.

There are many similarities (i.e. theme and style) in these paintings and that of the OCD art series. Because if you think about it, OCD and anxiety issues go hand in hand; explained below by definition:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can manifest itself as persistent worry about events or activities and produce physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, muscle tension and difficulty sleeping.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is usually specific obsessions and compulsions. The obsessive thoughts are uncontrollable. And the compulsion is a repetitive behavior to relieve the stress caused by the obsessions.

So in theory (and by real stories told from the likes of a Howie Mandel) GAD and OCD can actually mix to cause a devastating one-two punch. An example of this would be when the anxiety would cause heart palpitations that would then send the obsessive-compulsive sufferer to the emergency room, again and again, with thoughts — and fear — of death, or dying.

Any way you slice it, anxiety is very real to its sufferers. It's a disability folks! Most "normal" people don't understand the realness and skewed reality anxiety sufferers face on a daily basis. Simple acts like going to a 9 to 5 job can be agonizing chores for anxious minds and ultimately can lead to bouts of severe depression or even worse: suicide.

I know... your thinking: wow, what a joy to read about. Well that is only a fraction of what you experience when you try living with it! So then why paint about these uncomfortable, typically unapproachable subjects? It can't be explained on a website, but in short, it is just something the artist is compelled to do. It's a passion (for lack of a better term) that pounds on his insides and must get out.

Dennis tries to capture these mental struggles in paint and what ever other mediums he feels represent, or help to convey, the thoughts in his head. Also, what else should he paint about? He's an artist by nature after all, so he's destine to create something, and if he wanted to represent a pretty landscape he'd grab his camera, save a ton of time, and just take a picture.


  © 1997—2021 fine artist Dennis Ryan | Philadelphia, PA. All rights reserved.