Matthew Ronay at Perrotin, Paris

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Matthew Ronay’s sculptures are unabashedly joyful in their juxtapositions of intense colours and whimsical, blobby forms that protrude, spurt, flop, and slither from one another. The colours are candy-wrapper bright, yet maintain an unlikely softness through their application. The sculptures are made largely of basswood, which absorbs the dye and blends the vibrant pigment together with the pattern of the wood’s gentle grain. His exhibition at Perrotin Gallery, titled Ramus, includes a number of his assemblages, constructed from wood and accents of polycarbonate, plastic, and steel. From afar, they look almost soft, like collections of slumped pillows and toys. But this guise is simply a testament to the artists’s superior carving skills. Some of the sculptures look like gravity defying, weightless foam of irritable squishiness, but these qualities are the deceptive. It takes a lot of work to develop the appearance of a light touch.

The sculptures are abstract, but bring up connections to the human body, to the insides of life, to the intimate corporeal interactions between skin and the world. There is a sense of tension in the ways the different visual elements balance off against one another. They look almost animated. This is perhaps partly due to Ronay’s process. He continues a drawing practice, and some of these are sometimes exhibited alongside the three-dimensional works. But whether shown or not, there are always drawings thats predate the sculptures. It seems that something invisible remains consistent in the way the artist shifts the forms swimming in his mind from his imagination, to paper, to carvings. Hard to pinpoint, but the sculptures feel embedded with a certain spirit. The freedom of sketching with pencil and paper, the ability to make wiggly lines, flowing gestures, and surprising compositions translates are retained in their three-dimensional iteration.
The exhibition is on show at Perrotin in Paris until 26 May.