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Matthew Ronay: The Crack, the Swell, an Earth, an Ode


Nasher Sculpture Center

Brooklyn-based artist Matthew Ronay is best known for his chromatic, handmade wood sculptures that at different turns suggest otherworldly landscapes with futuristic architectures and bodily processes like digestion and aging. For his exhibition in the Nasher’s Lower Level Gallery, Ronay expands the scale of his work to create his largest and most ambitious sculpture to-date.

Titled The Crack, the Swell, an Earth, an Ode, the nearly 24-foot-long sculpture offers a comprehensive introduction to Ronay’s surreal worlds and the various creatures inhabiting them. Representing that tension between abstraction and representation, the various connected elements in The Crack achieve what Ronay describes as “the razor’s edge of familiar and unfamiliar; you think you’re seeing something, but you’re not quite sure.”

Ronay’s sculptures begin as drawings, materialized first on notebook pages in pencil, before going on to become enlarged in charcoal, then translated into three dimensions. This relationship between two and three dimensions is evident in the front-to-back orientation of his sculptures, with the “front” determined by its position in the corresponding drawing. Both the scale and frontality of The Crack relate the sculpture to architecture, with its narrative elements recalling an ancient frieze. An amalgam of nearly three dozen drawings the artist made over the previous three years and containing a multitude of leitmotifs recontextualized and reimagined in new compositions, colors, and textures, Ronay’s The Crack represents a culmination of nearly a decade of thinking, making, and creating.

A lavishly illustrated catalogue with essays by exhibition curator and Nasher Associate Curator Dr. Leigh Arnold and Clark Art Institute Associate Curator of Contemporary Projects, Robert Wiesenberger, will accompany the exhibition.

Matthew Ronay was born in 1976 in Louisville, Kentucky, and studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art before earning his MFA from Yale University in 2000. Ronay has exhibited at institutions including Kunsthalle Lingen, Germany; University of Louisville, Kentucky; Artspace, San Antonio, Texas; 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, Kentucky; 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.

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