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Roni Shneior

JOAN
4300 West Jefferson Boulevard, 1
April 23, 2017–June 4, 2017

Roni Shneior, Tree and smiling moon, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 51".

A large painting of an agave plant, titled Agave, 2017, serves as a fulcrum in this exhibition of painting and sculpture from Israeli-born, Los Angeles–based Roni Shneior. Unlike the agaves that one might find in a nursery, springy and symmetrical with dazzling leaves, this artist’s greenery is filled with a near-human pathos. Its components are variously at attention and rest; some impotently bend over, like half-hearted attempts at origami. The colors are muted—drab, mournful. The ghostly edges of the leaves are echoed in the lozenge-shaped “eye” that hovers above the plant and whose foggy emanations serve as the only source of light in the image. This work, like so many others here, takes the familiar and imbues it with the alien; something’s off, but what?

To be sure, there is humor in this tactic as well. For example, Bloom, 2017, is a ceramic and papier-mâché sculpture of ten hands, whose absurdly long arms are knotted together like the tails of a rat king. Like Agave, it is at once an articulation of difference and divergence. This Hydra-like form enacts gestures that can be beguiling (one hand gently brushes the floor, fingers languidly extended) or brutal (another pounds the cement gallery floor with its fist). The show continues like this, with slow and elegiac paintings, funny and absurd sculptures.

The droopy red flowers of the bulbous bottlebrush tree represented in Tree and smiling moon, 2017, handily evoke the gravity that caused Shneior’s paint to drip informally at the bottom of the canvas. But the moon of the work’s title is thin and wan, looking less like a blessing from the heavens than a thin-lipped curse spoken in the still air of a pink-and-purple sky.

Andy Campbell