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Matthew Ronay
at Artpace, San Antonio, Texas
Recommendation by Elaine Wolff


Matthew Ronay, 'Between the Worlds' (detail), 2010, mixed media installation, dimensions variable

Continuing through January 2, 2011

Matthew Ronay's enchanting "Between the Worlds" installation expands on modern art's debt to primitive African and Oceanic sculpture and belief systems to evoke an esoteric mythology that feels as complete and potentially infinite as Star Wars. Using canvas, papier-mâchè, paint, and plaster to populate a large, tent-like space with totemic representations of the natural world, Romay creates space to contemplate the value of natural versus manmade materials, and the extent to which our desires and will invest objects with meaning and power.

Owls, curtains of tiny mushrooms, towering cacti, and forbidding blooms are rendered almost entirely in gray scale, as if viewed through a portal the viewer can't entirely pierce. The gallery setting, where tradition encourages us to objectify and analyze rather than experience, heightens the tension between immersion and consumption, authenticity and creativity. This show has been described as Ronay's shift away from cynicism, and an accompanying video of his shamanistic costumes in action suggests that humor, and a deep curiosity, are part of his current perspective.

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