Catarina Leitão "Tamed Nature" and Matthew Ronay "Outlaw Biker Gang"
Matthew Ronay and Catarina Leitão make their premier appearance in New York, each with a new body of sculptural works. Together they transform Gallery 2 into an extremely animated somewhat chaotic forest of imagined objects that spin off into two separate but complementary fantasies.
Catarina Leitão's work investigates the city dweller's desire to domesticate and possess nature, to create a sense of ownership of, and safety around and from elements of nature. While we fetishize and protect the natural aspects of the city, Leitão's work also alludes to our intrinsic fear of nature and our need to control it. Like Ronay's, the work is mysteriously non-overt and openly fantastical, yet one can seek out the specifics: the accessorizing of tree plantings, grass plots that appear to be both a picnic sight and a shopping bag garden… As you look at the sculptures, these more specific references extend and lead quickly outward to abstract notions, a kind of wandering in an enchanted landscape that retains a spooky, and politically ominous edge. For instance, there is a loose yet obvious reference to camouflage in its myriad forms; as an abstract pattern and the way we have abstracted its use and function, as well as its now disjointed relationship to fashion and war.
As an artist's statement Matthew Ronay wrote: The way the stain seeps from a hamburger below the surface of a colored, zigzagged, butt-indented couch cushion is as ornate as what popping a wheelie by yourself does to cycling. This sentence reflects the formal meandering inherent to his work. Ronay is inclined to use complex juxtapositions and darkly hilarious stories as an entry point into a discussion. He conceived this particular body of work as a personal construct of biker gangs, allowing himself total freedom to mix content, from the implausible to the cliché. One work, "Vince Neil / lead vocals", incorporates eight constructed elements – a sawed off piece of mantle from which extends a giraffe, a car tilted up from the ground to meet the giraffe's face, a small piece of a bracelet, a joint strung like an ornament to a pine twig, and a bloody piece of popcorn on top of a ping pong paddle. To begin a conversation about the work Ronay tells an elaborate story about a biker gang's frustration with Motley Crue's insensitive use of bikers as "surface" for their videos and the subsequent vandalizing of Vince Neil's home. They remove and reinstall this so-called commissioned sculpture…
Both sculptors are engaged in material specificity and the details of their craft. Each spends time developing their abilities, Catarina Leitão with the manipulation of fabric and Matthew Ronay with the subtractive process of carving and constructing wooden objects. While the material is absolutely intrinsic to the emotional and physical impact of the work, in neither case is one compelled to obsess about the material or the construction of the objects.
We are extremely pleased to be showing two young artists who are so gracefully and eloquently working with the vital and compelling dilemma of sculpture making. Too often the making of sculpture becomes a manual process of manifesting an idea. It is clear that for both Ronay and Leitão the making of the work feeds their ideas as much as any preconceived narrative feeds the physical resonance of the final object.