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It began with a falling moon.

Chantal Ryan spent the second half of 2010 occupied with a pivotal series of paintings of moons, softly descending through nighttime skies. As the images accumulated, she found herself wondering where those shining discs might eventually come to rest; and from that reverie sprang the image of moonlight in dark gardens, a series of paintings that became known as Les jardins mystérieux.

“For me, it was trying to go deeper into the idea of the paintings I was making at that time,” she recalls. “I had painted a falling moon behind a tree of some kind, and that place began to seem mysterious. There was moonlight, perhaps a figure in the shadows.”

“It seemed in a way the essence of life’s mystery. We never know, as we walk through each day, what is coming next: and that is the feeling I am trying to explore in Les jardins mystérieux.” Reflecting life, these abstracted landscapes explore many moods, some joyful, some playful, and some quieter, more deliberative.

“They seem to me to be similar to the way we dream when we are in a garden,” Ryan observes. “You are alone with your thoughts, your imagination, and suddenly a leaf may look for an instant like a bird, you are left to interpret what your mind has perceived. Everything within sight is transforming.”

A journey to the butterfly jungles of Panama at the end of 2011 intensified and animated Ryan’s garden images with the flicker of jeweled wings. “Butterflies are themselves like a dream,” she says, “in view for a second, and then gone.”

“Sometimes when the world is heavy on your mind, you desire so keenly to be able to dream.” The landscapes of Les jardins mystérieux, with their shadows, their glowing mists, their glints of gold, are just such places, where dreams are made.