Tour: Forty Demonic Heads by Ronald Gonzalez
June 8, 2002 – September 15, 2002
Concurrent with “Rodin’s Obsession: The Gates of Hell,” the Beach Museum of Art presented “Tour: 40 Demonic Heads by Ronald Gonzalez,” an installation featuring forty heads made of cast and burned plaster, wax, paint, carbon, wire, and animal bones, teeth, and horns.
Gonzalez, a sculptor based in Binghamton, New York and an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at the State University of New York at Binghamton, has long been fascinated by Rodin’s The Gates of Hell. Rodin’s work, particularly the fragments of cast limbs from The Gates of Hell that Gonzalez saw reproduced in a book as a teenager, has been one of the artist’s most important sources of inspiration throughout his career. In one sense, Gonzalez’s career can be understood as a protracted response to Rodin’s work.
Some might remember Gonzalez’s Catacomb, a 1998 piece commissioned by and installed at the Salina Art Center, featuring a group of life-sized skeletal figures striding across a ground of bony bits and fragments. In works like Catacomb and the group of so-called “Demonic Heads” to be on view at the Beach Museum of Art, Gonzalez successfully mines and melds the worlds of the living and the dead.
As Gonzalez has commented, his “process of working runs parallel with creation by fixing the body between growth and dissolution, two dominating forces that affirm the birth and death wish submerged deep within the psychology of form.” Or, as one critic has described it, Gonzalez’s work is an “amelioration of the unbearable binary reality of being and nonbeing.” As such, Gonzalez’s sculpture is at once abstract and real, much like death itself.