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Matthew Ronay: The Tombs Are Upset

Exhibition details

Opening / Event Date:
5 May, 2023
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Closing / End Date:
10 June, 2023
Event Category:
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Perrotin Hong Kong is pleased to present The Tombs Are Upset, a solo exhibition by Matthew Ronay on view from May 5 to June 10, 2023 – the artist’s first presentation in our Hong Kong gallery.


Ronay presents six new sculptures in his signature medium of hand-carved, hand-dyed polychromed basswood. The exhibition’s title is derived from a single artwork which is installed on a single pedestal in one gallery, spanning over three and a half meters (eleven and a half feet). The artwork is composed of a series of compositions, each placing one abstracted, biomorphic element in conversation with another. The resulting processional is a practice the artist has expanded in recent years through exhibitions at Perrotin Shanghai (2020) and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas (2022), wherein the linear aspect of the artworks invite the viewers to encounter the pieces as a narrative that unfurls, temporally. Each work begins as a drawing, summoned from the artist’s subconsciousness. As three-dimensional sculptures, Ronay reflects this process by installing works so viewers view them front to back, left to right, each vignette resolving into the next.


In The Tombs Are Upset, the works are born from Ronay’s reflections upon death, the study of Eschatology, and the way in which the experience of living is framed by the knowledge of an end. The artist points to the rapid advancement of technology as accelerating an inevitable death. Throughout the exhibition, Ronay’s forms allude to processes of the body, creatures and growths, alongside technological components, that ultimately evade true representation. His sculptures become hybrid creatures embodying our technologically saturated modern experience; amalgamates of body and machine reckoning with the futility of life.


The artist reflects on his approach to this latest series in the following passage:


On Eschatology:

Part of the shared experience of living is that we anticipate our existence coming to an abrupt and infinite terminus. In the past, stories of the “end of days” came down to us through prophecy rife with anger and terror. Burning is a recurring leitmotif: tearing, contracting, screaming, exploding. The end of the world is connected to moral and ethical failings; innovation is perceived as the death of the old order. In some tellings the universe begins again; in others, its ending is final–but everything undoubtedly becomes undone. When the entropy of daily life feels untenable, we default to pronouncements of Apocalypse. That the contemporary condition is a layering of lived atrocity, fathoms of chaos and trespass, makes it logical that people frequently insist the end is near. This phenomenon is not unique to our century; it just feels more acute. One way or another, we will annihilate ourselves; there is a scientific, rational certainty to it. The struggle for domination mixed with technology is one path that leads towards our utter demise. A technological singularity (the exponential growth of technology) may change our civilization in unimaginable ways, resulting in our extinction. Whether imperishable or consigned to extinction, observing the universe encourages eschatology. Initially mortality and absolution may have been used to shame people and control them; it seems now envisioning the end may be a coping mechanism and a preparation for the inevitable.



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