Ryan's art originates in the seams sewn into the upholstery of mid-range automobiles and in the gaps that separate various body panels. For example, the narrow void between a car's closed hood and its fenders might inspire him to make a detailed drawing of that tiny gap, paying particular attention to variations in its width. (When cars roll off the assembly line these eighth-of-an-inch openings are supposed to be uniform but rarely are.)
Ryan then feeds his drawing into a computer, which produces another wave of glitches and inconsistencies. Exaggerating some and downplaying others, he proceeds to design oddly shaped forms, each made up of a half-dozen components that he juxtaposes (like jigsaw puzzle pieces), sometimes laminating a few layers atop one another so that they fit together almost -- but not quite -- perfectly.
These components, cut with lasers from sheets of metal and plywood, could not be more precisely engineered. Ryan paints them with similar fastidiousness, spraying, rolling and brushing tasteful accents onto the white ground he favors. Although his finishes are impeccable, the contours of his shaped paintings most closely resemble a top view of a metal garbage can that's been banged around for a lifetime.
Lorser Feitelson's "Magical Space Forms" paintings from the 1950s are behind Ryan's casually elegant panels, as are Ingrid Calame's meticulously traced stains, Bart Exposito's idiosyncratic graphics and Sherin Guirguis' levitating cutouts. With a flair for making mistakes look beautiful, Ryan reveals that if you've got enough talent to make art work its magic, it doesn't matter what you begin with or how dumb your sources are.
Mark Moore Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 453-3031, through Feb. 15. Closed Sundays and Mondays.