A Gentle Kind of Cruelty
January 22, 2011
through February 19, 2011
NEW YORK, NY (November 1, 2010) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present A Gentle Kind of Cruelty, new works by Toronto-based artist Ray Caesar in what will be his fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. The show will feature printed multiples as well as several large-scale, original, one-of-a-kind prints. Caesar expands upon his signature aesthetic in this exhibition by taking a more painterly approach, rendering new imagery with softer edges and greater movement than in previous work. The artist’s digitally created dreamscapes, set in elaborately furnished Rococo-style interiors, feature haunting doll-like female figures with delicate features and porcelain complexions. The hybrid characters, part-child-part-woman, some sprouting tails, tentacles and other animal appendages, all wear elaborate costumes that reference fashions of the past and often incorporate futuristic elements as well.
Caesar works in Maya (a 3D modeling software used for digital animation effects in film and game industries), using it to create his figures as well as the virtual realms in which they exist. Through the program, he builds digital models with invisible skeletons and anatomical joints that can be bent and manipulated to assume any pose. He wraps the models in rich textures, adding hair, skin, eyelashes and fingernails. Then places them in digitally lit, impeccably detailed 3D environments built with architectural layers, windows, wallpapers, curtains and furnishings. Caesar’s meticulous process incorporates elements of drawing, painting, collage and sculpture, working countless hours to achieve every remarkably intricate tableau. Further emphasizing his sculptural technique, Caesar compares his process of 2D printmaking with imagery created in 3D as being similar to the practice of capturing stills from video and film.
With full control over dressing, posing and lighting his figures as well as every element of their surroundings, Caesar’s craft is an advanced extension of a childhood obsession—playing with dolls. Fantasy, escapism, human cruelty and disguise are reoccurring themes explored within his dramatic narratives. Betraying the seemingly child-like innocence of the figures is their piercing, knowing gaze—exposing inner strength in contrast with their fragile physical appearance. Dark details manifest from deep within the artist’s vast imagination to define simulated realities, transporting the viewer into sanctuaries created for his lost ghost-children who emerge from shadows into safe refuge, carrying macabre secrets and hidden truths.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Ray Caesar was born in 1958 in London. At an early age, his family moved to Toronto, Canada, where he currently resides. From 1977—80 he attended Ontario College of Art, followed by 17 years from 1980—96 working in the art & photography department of the Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto, documenting disturbing cases of child abuse, surgical reconstruction, psychology, and animal research. Coupled with inspiration from surrealists Kahlo and Dali, Caesar’s experiences at the hospital continue to influence his artwork. His haunting imagery is created digitally using 3D modeling software called Maya, mastered while working in digital animation for television and film industries from 1998—2001. In 1999, Caesar received a Primetime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Special Effects in a series.