Visited Ryo Toyonaga: Mephistophelean
Gallery open March 18th to May 15th, 2009, at The Vilcek Foundation, 167 E. 73rd St. New York, NY. See http://www.vilcek.org/ or http://www.ryotoyonaga.com/
Sculpting as an art-form is a harsh medium. Too often you’ll see pieces that are unrealized and sophomorically limp and shapeless. Ryo Toyonaga, however, has managed to create some off-the-wall pieces that, in their own amoebic wanderings, maintain a tight structure and semblance of continuity.
Picture the world beneath the ocean a million years from now…these pieces look like what would be brought back by a diver as proof of a long-lost civilization. All the pieces are related through structure and color, as if drawn up in the same net. Wispy little flagella rise up from the pieces, while corpuscular growths complete the heavy marine presence.
The colors of the pieces are mostly a volcanic terracotta, with the exception of a couple pieces that are slashed open to reveal what appear to be bright red berries, while the textures shift between the smoothness of metal and the coarse graininess of coral or shale.
The use of the mechanical themes are usually used in conjunction with rotting or shriveled organic elements, as if the system of spigots and wheels sucked the life right out of nature.
The Vilcek Foundation’s gallery was super smooth and bright, so that the pieces really popped out and grabbed your attention. It’s definitely worth checking out, as Ryo Toyonaga’s work is very different and special. A series of lectures are also available through the Vilcek Foundation if you’re interested in getting a little more involved. See their site for info.