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Review: At Marc Foxx Gallery, the wild and whimsical world of Matthew Ronay

Matthew Ronay’s pint-sized sculptures strut their stuff like nothing else. The imagination races to catch up with the stories that spill from the New York artist’s evocative works at Marc Foxx Gallery, where nine candy-colored abstractions stand on cloth-draped pedestals and four yellow-hued doozies hang on the walls.

Wild forest orchids and poison dart frogs come to mind — the first for their exotic beauty and fragile elegance, the second for their eye-popping colors and the dangers they signal.

But a few moments in Ronay’s exhibition, “Surds,” buffer such extremes. To look closely at his playful pieces is to see the hand of a master craftsman at work, the mind of an original thinker at play and the heart of a generous giver doing his thing.

Matthew Ronay, “13,” 2016, basswood, dye, aluminium, steel, flocking, shellac-based primer, 11-1/2 x 19-3/4 x 17 inches,
Matthew Ronay, “13,” 2016, basswood, dye, aluminium, steel, flocking, shellac-based primer, 11-1/2 x 19-3/4 x 17 inches, (Matthew Ronay and Marc Foxx)
Matthew Ronay, “Pons,” 2017, basswood, dye, steel, plastic, flocking, gouache, 14-1/2 x 16-1/2 x 7,
Matthew Ronay, “Pons,” 2017, basswood, dye, steel, plastic, flocking, gouache, 14-1/2 x 16-1/2 x 7, (Matthew Ronay and Mark Foxx)
Matthew Ronay, “Endling,” 2017, basswood, dye, steel, shellac-based primer, flocking, 13-1/4 x 20 x 15-1/2 inches,
Matthew Ronay, “Endling,” 2017, basswood, dye, steel, shellac-based primer, flocking, 13-1/4 x 20 x 15-1/2 inches, (Matthew Ronay and Marc Foxx)
Matthew Ronay, “Scanner,” 2017, basswood, dye, flocking, plastic, 12 x 18 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches,
Matthew Ronay, “Scanner,” 2017, basswood, dye, flocking, plastic, 12 x 18 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches, (Matthew Ronay and Marc Foxx)

Ronay’s sinuous forms are so carefully carved and lovingly sanded from chunks of basswood that you want to caress them like pets. The sense of friendliness is accentuated by the dyes Ronay has applied to his sculptures, leaving the wood grain visible and further softening their contours.

Right angles and hard edges are nowhere to be found. Ronay’s sculptures look as if they might be the offspring of a preschooler’s building blocks and a rogue coral reef. Some parts of some sculptures have been coated with flocking, making their organic forms appear to be covered by a layer of unnatural moss, synthetic lichen or clothing.

Some of the tabletop pieces resemble otherworldly landscapes. The hoodoo-packed expanses of Bryce Canyon National Park are evoked, as are the whimsical worlds that appear in Dr. Seuss stories. Others recall cartoon ray guns, intergalactic transmitters, architectural ornamentation, sea snakes and wind instruments.

If Pandora’s box had an opposite — or an antidote — it might very well be “Surds.”

Marc Foxx, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., L.A. Through June 3; closed Sundays and Mondays. (323) 857-5571, www.marcfoxx.com

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