Leo Ray’s new paintings are large-scale, impressive, absorbing, yet nonetheless—soft and delicate, as though pervaded by an enchanting dreamlike atmosphere. They create a panoramic landscape that seeks to draw its viewers into itself, but the landscape then dissolves into foggy mysticism – see the work “Balcony,” for example.
Ray’s paintings move along the axis of tension between movement in the direction of stabilizing an internal architecture to the painting and the burning desire to unravel the composition, a desire coarsely formalized through the way in which many of the paintings come unraveled at the edges, as it were, and “pour” into abstract painting, into the solitary line, into an agitated flurry of drawing, into a clean, demarcated patch of color, or into an unseen end. See the painting “River,” for example.
Ray’s paintings, punctuated with large swaths of dense visual information, are seemingly intent on creating a hermetic space of their own, a boundless plane in which the icons are immersed and in which a one-of-its-kind event takes place, a happening that could be framed under the narrative of “Contention and Conservation.”
The contention is the postmodernist contention with the past, with the clichés of painting, with familiar quotations from the history of art; and out of that, willy-nilly, conservation is accomplished. The painterly composition replete with transcendent totality can also be read as fluid material that enables fixing and safeguarding, the canvas as a trap which can capture the chaotic permutation at a crucial moment, mark the interference between the thing and color, form, line, medium.
Ray’s paintings convey the pure feeling of a breeze come from chaos, a breeze which has been captured, domesticated, and formalized into excellent art.