RONAN DAY-LEWIS

SEE THROUGH

SPRING/BREAK Art Show Los Angeles 2022

February 16 - 20, 2022
Culver City Arts District

 

Press:
COOL HUNTING
HYPERALLERGIC
WHITEWALL
VOGUE

 

Artist's Statement

With "So Sorry", I propose a suite of oil pastel works created over the past year which play on the tradition of the medieval tapestry, re-casting widely known biblical narratives as stages for a new, surreal mythology. The paintings examine anxieties both personal and societal, contemporary and eternal -- from the perpetual guilt of leaving people on "read", to the more general fear of being found wicked; by others, or by a higher power.

The vaguely equine creatures populating my pastoral settings at times appear timid, easily frightened. They give the sense that one must be quiet and not look at them too long, lest they dart away like startled deer, or like the unicorn in the famous tapestries. They are x-rays of internal organs and internal landscapes. As shimmering fluid moves through bodies and spills out from between lips, the boundary between being and nature becomes porous, and everything vibrates in a pulsing, ever-shifting ocean of feeling. Their constant drinking and expurging, giving and receiving, evokes an unceasing exchange of energy and meaning. In the largest of these works -- The Beginning (Listen! Your Brother's Blood Calls Out To Me From The Soil.) -- we see the moment of stillness following a tragedy. Ruby red blood dripping from the point where the stem of an arrow punctures his flesh, one of these translucent beings drinks (dispels?) crystalline water in a serene stasis. Looking out at us from his mysterious pasture, his expression is both transparent and opaque. The creatures struggle -- sometimes comically, sometimes tragically -- in a search for transcendence, moving through both contemporary breakdowns in communication ("Oh God so sorry, I thought I responded!"), and enduring human archetypes of love, murder, brotherly jealousy, motherhood, childhood, and an impossible search for the sublime.

Just as these cryptids occupy an uncanny valley between human and beast (pensive, melancholic faces, elegantly curved noses, gracefully parted lips protrude from carnal, quadrupedal bodies), their habitat lies in a sort of twilight zone of its own. This secret world's glowing amber meadows, inviting streams, sweeping plains, and shadowy groves are less representations of an outside world than suggestions of an internal one. The overripe, digitally luminous colors which these ostensibly natural environments are rendered in -- neon yellows, acid greens, grapefruit pinks, blood reds -- call into question the very idea of the Edens they portray. They invite you in, even as their poisonous hues warn you of hidden dangers. They say, "come here, look at me, admire me, but do not believe what I am telling you" (in a moment of sudden transparency, "This is not an eden" emerges in a child-like scrawl from lush grass).

At a time when any moment of serenity is interrupted by a euphoric and obliterating tsunami of content, these paintings pose questions, not answers. Has this age of information in which we live shattered some old Eden, or is this idea of innocence lost -- traceable to Adam and Eve's expulsion from the garden -- a lie?

-Ronan Day-Lewis

2022