Perrotin Hong Kong is pleased to present The Tombs Are Upset, a solo exhibition by Matthew Ronay on view from May 5 to June 10, 2023 – the artist’s first presentation in our Hong Kong gallery.
Ronay presents six new sculptures in his signature medium of hand-carved, hand-dyed polychromed basswood. The exhibition’s title is derived from a single artwork which is installed on a single pedestal in one gallery, spanning over three and a half meters (eleven and a half feet). The artwork is composed of a series of compositions, each placing one abstracted, biomorphic element in conversation with another. The linear aspect of the artwork invites the viewers to encounter the pieces as a narrative that unfurls, temporally.
In The Tombs Are Upset, the works are born from Ronay’s reflections upon death, the study of Eschatology, and the way in which the experience of living is framed by the knowledge of an end. The artist points to the rapid advancement of technology as accelerating an inevitable death.
Throughout the exhibition, Ronay’s forms allude to processes of the body, creatures and growths, alongside technological components, that ultimately evade true representation. His sculptures become hybrid creatures embodying our technologically saturated modern experience; amalgamates of body and machine reckoning with the futility of life.
The linear aspect of the artworks invite the viewers to encounter the pieces as a narrative that unfurls, temporally. Each work begins as a drawing, summoned from the artist’s subconsciousness. As three-dimensional sculptures, Ronay reflects this process by installing works so viewers view them front to back, left to right, each vignette resolving into the next.
"The end of the world is connected to moral and ethical failings; innovation is perceived as the death of the old order. In some tellings the universe begins again; in others, its ending is final--but everything undoubtedly becomes undone. When the entropy of daily life feels untenable, we default to pronouncements of Apocalypse. That the contemporary condition is a layering of lived atrocity, fathoms of chaos and trespass, makes it logical that people frequently insist the end is near. This phenomenon is not unique to our century; it just feels more acute."
In Providence the artist composes a grid-like organism with a series of red antennae emanating from a series of cylinders. Each growth seems to rhythmically pulse outward, like a set of feelers, scanning the exterior environment. In its geometric and repetitive composition, Providence ambiguously hovers between industrial and organic, rhythm and static;
The artist’s recent works reveal a fascination with botany and marine biology, while purposely refraining from definition. In Uneasy Sound the title points to a biomorphic lobe meeting a familiar echo or reverberation, suspended at the base.
In Charity, Ronay places two forms, differentiated through hue and texture, caught in an elegant embrace;
Following a decades-long interest in phenomenology, Ronay’s works are often derived from interactions with his subconscious, which reflect myriad impressions, ranging from the legacy of abstract art and ritualistic habits to the relationship between the body and other organic forms;
In Recital, two halves are poised in the process of uncoupling. Their tendons and joints, once operating in unison appear unfurling and detaching, transforming and softening. As their processes crescendo, the elements work in a new harmony.
"One way or another, we will annihilate ourselves; there is a scientific, rational certainty to it. The struggle for domination mixed with technology is one path that leads towards our utter demise. A technological singularity (the exponential growth of technology) may change our civilization in unimaginable ways, resulting in our extinction. Whether imperishable or consigned to extinction, observing the universe encourages eschatology. Initially mortality and absolution may have been used to shame people and control them; it seems now envisioning the end may be a coping mechanism and a preparation for the inevitable."
Born in 1976 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Born in 1976 in Louisville, Kentucky, Matthew Ronay studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art before earning his Masters in Fine Arts from Yale University in 2000. Ronay has exhibited at institutions including Kunsthalle Lingen, Germany; University of Louisville, Kentucky; Artspace, San Antonio; Serpentine Gallery, London; Sculpture Center, New York; Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville; and Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, London. Ronay participated in the 2013 Lyon Biennale, curated by Gunnar Kvaran, and the 2004 Whitney Biennial. In 2016, his work was the subject of solo-presentations at the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston, Texas and the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Florida.