Critics’ Picks

Matthew Ronay, Magnitude Source, 2017, basswood, dye, steel, 19 x 40 1/2 x 12".

Matthew Ronay, Magnitude Source, 2017, basswood, dye, steel, 19 x 40 1/2 x 12".

Los Angeles

Matthew Ronay

Marc Foxx Gallery
6150 Wilshire Boulevard
April 29–June 3, 2017

No one moves quite as fluidly between art and science, spiritual and urbane pursuits, or craftsmanship and conceptual rigor as Matthew Ronay. In this exhibition, Ronay presents refined, colorfully flocked-and-dyed carved Basswood orbs, black holes, tubes, cones, and bricks, many meticulously built from single pieces of wood and then reconstituted with hidden dowels. His objects connote both otherworldly shapes and eighteenth-century utopian architecture—think C. N. Ledoux—as much as mammal innards, vegetables, minerals, and undulating sea creatures.

The show is titled “Surds” after one of pi’s siblings, an irrational integer reduced to a square root. These sculptural arrangements, displayed in an X-shape on five square plinths that checkerboard the gallery floor, look like a three-dimensional mandala or some alternate universe’s fractal collapse. That said, the installation has a Zen-like calmness about it: The engineered organization of these wild forms is complemented by the wrinkled hand-sewn slipcovers Ronay made to offset the wood’s smooth Pop allure. Inspired by the Mayan system of counting, 13, 2016, looks like a factory town built of hot dogs, while Scanner, 2017, resembles an acorn squash or carnivorous flower with a stamen or pistil structure. The largest piece, centrally installed, is Magnitude Source, 2017, a green, purple, orange, and blue orb with wavy beams of wood radiating from it, like an electrified sun topping a giant, brilliantly queer wedding cake.

Key to the artist’s material metaphysics is the way his wood carvings look gummy, soft, bulbous, vegetal, even spongy, while his sewn objects sometimes adopt harder angles. Ronay’s abject symbolism is carried out through sexualized forms, ruptures between exterior and interior, and objects that elude simple recipes for attraction or repulsion. These sculptures brilliantly challenge short attention spans, inviting us into intimacy.