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Mattea Perrotta & Jonathan Ryan
May 19 - July 7, 2018
The Landing is pleased to present a show of new works by Los Angeles-based painters Mattea Perrotta and Jonathan Ryan. Both born in 1989, they each started out as observational painters and are now working in abstraction. Mattea Perrotta began painting portraits, then pivoted to a simplified, abstract series of shapes that capture and distill the essence of her female subjects into flattened, geometric forms. Jonathan Ryan’s abstractions reference architecture and universal form, he uses repetition and drop shadows to depict impossible structures. Both artist’s paintings feature textured, dynamic surfaces; Perrotta applies her paint thickly, and her canvases feature many layers of underpainting, giving a sense of the artist reworking the composition while in process. Many of Ryan’s carefully mapped out geometric paintings incorporate sand, giving them a palpable earthiness.
Mattea Perrotta was born in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, and then studied painting at UC Berkeley. Perrotta began with figure drawing and portraiture, and while working on her BFA in fine art she trained in academic painting at the Santa Reparta School of Art in Florence. Eventually, Perrotta’s work began to transition from figuration into more simplified, abstract forms. Her subject matter, however, remained the same: women. Perrotta’s paintings portray women sunbathing, women swimming, reclining female nudes: women at leisure. Perrotta’s stark compositions built with dense paint remain abstract, but their titles indicate their figurative subject matter. Despite their abstraction, Perrotta’s canvases retain a feeling of Classicism, owing to their color palette—golden ochres, deep blues, and a spectrum of flesh tones—and their interest in the female form. Perrotta’s flattening of space and simplification of the figure brings to mind Édouard Manet’s “Olympia,” as a precursor. The artist herself describes her subject matter as the balance between the sacred feminine and the sacred masculine.
Perrotta learned how to make her own pigments while living in Morocco, and maintains a close relationship to the colors she uses. She knows the origin, history and process of each pigment she employs. This interest in process is continued in Perrotta’s textile works, which are hand-woven, hand-dyed versions of her paintings made by women Perrotta met while living in Morocco. These lush, soft-textured works reflect Perrotta’s interest in design—she cites the Bauhaus as one of her strongest influences—and also her interest in blurring the line between art and life, as they’re meant to be used.
Jonathan Ryan was raised in Louisiana, where he studied painting at Louisiana State University, then moved to Philadelphia, where he earned his MFA at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Ryan began as an observational painter, depicting sunlit buildings and landscapes, then shifted towards imagined spaces and forms. His current works are influenced by industrial structures and archaic architecture. Ryan’s imagined works of architecture feel ancient, and yet—with their apparent geometry, their incorporation of labyrinthine shapes, walls and passages, and with their penchant for aerial views—also reference early video games and digital spaces. His painted structures include pyramidal shapes, radial step formations, and fortress walls. Their forms bring to mind land art, their color palette and use of shallow pictorial space nods to the work of Josef Albers. Some paintings include striking flashes of bright water or sky—as pools, or as windows—almost like a James Turrell skyspace.
Ryan’s masterful use of shadow gives his works an almost tromp l’oeil effect, as if they’re carved in relief, or as if they are dioramas that stand out from the wall, or interject into it. Though his forms are geometric, they retain a feeling of warmth; rather than featuring hard lines, they are soft at their edges and slightly asymmetrical. To make these works, Ryan sifts one of several types of sand in his arsenal onto areas of wet oil paint. The sand gives these geometric paintings a new variable, bringing in an earthiness that offsets their digital-feeling composition.
Mattea Perrotta (b. 1989) is a Los Angeles based artist born and raised in Los Angeles. Perrotta has a BFA from UC Berkeley and studied at the Santa Reparta School of Art in Florence. Her paintings deal with the balance between masculinity and femininity, the unconscious, desire, and the female body. She has had solo exhibitions at Lamb Arts in London and MAMA Gallery in Madrid and Mexico City. She has appeared in group exhibitions in Istanbul, London, Melbourne, Lima, São Paolo, Mexico City, and Bogotá and attended residencies in Mallorca, London, Marrakech and Lisbon. Her recent textiles were influenced by her time living in Tahannaout, Morocco, she still frequents the city and it has had an immense impact on her paintings and practice.
Jonathan Ryan (b. 1989) is a Los Angeles based artist originally from Shreveport, Louisiana. He has a BFA from Louisiana State University and an MFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University. His background in observational paintings gives his geometric abstractions a grounding in real light and shadow. He has an ongoing investment in color, materiality, and Modernist form in painting. He has appeared in exhibitions in New York, Philadelphia, artist run spaces throughout Los Angeles, and was a member artist at Tiger Strikes Asteroid LA from 2014 through 2017.