Mousse 68: Out Now
Dutch Mistress (2013) is profiled in softening summer-hot glow, her bowl cut snappish in cantaloupe orange. Her bouffant hair, plumulaceous, secludes the skull itself. What does the shape achieve? Powder puff, acorn, vessel, rotunda, halo. Holbein’s stoicism meets Steven Shearer’s boys of willowy lustiness—or Russian icon painting; the silhouette serves as a template for Androgynous Angels, a series of profile portraits modeled on and by Kenneth Bergfeld.
Like browsing through a personal library, an artist-curated exhibition can provide as much insight into that artist’s practice as a solo presentation. In 2016, Matthew Ronay organized Empirical Intuitive Absorption at Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York, pairing his intricately carved and impossibly supple basswood sculptures with paintings by Serge Charchoune and Fernand Léger, earthen ceramics by Graham Marks, and Terry Riley’s minimalist drones. The exhibition expanded upon and contextualized the artist’s interest in the formal and spiritual concerns that connect various modes of abstraction across temporalities. Ronay distilled this vision for his recent solo exhibition Betrayals of and by the Body at Casey Kaplan in New York, showcasing a series of distinct but interconnected basswood sculptures that give form to the abstract forces and processes that operate within and between all bodies of matter.
All of his work was abstract, but it had a spiritual or philosophical sense. It was a sign language for abstract vital concepts such as energy, rhythm, tension, randomness, ambiguity.
An evident, cross-disciplinary topic is the appeal to unlearn modern art history as hegemonic discourse built upon colonial positions, and include in its canon other images, voices, stories, and sources—along a similar path set out by the much-berated documenta 14