RONIT BARANGA [ THE PUPPET THEATER ]
Ronit Baranga's ceramic sculptures are hauntingly lifelike and frisky. There is always a dichotomy to her work and an element of the unexpected. Inbuilt contradictions, sometimes playful, sometimes threatening, that surprise, shock or unsettle the viewer. Based on her series The Grave Watchers’ Childhood, that was influenced by two ancient figures – "Tomb Guardians" from the Tang Dynasty (618-906 A.D.) – Baranga's new work continues the examination of baby sweetness and innocence in contradistinction to a wild and uncontrollable side inherent in children.
For this purpose, the artist uses the motif of the putto, a naked angelic child figure, that is present in sculpture and painting since antiquity and transforms it as an antithesis in a cute demon with horns, fangs and claws. Originally embodying love, innocence and beauty, the childishness in Baranga's works represents challenging emotions such as anger, frustration, desire and recalcitrance. On the one hand, several of her demon sculptures are forming a threatening and dynamic unit by responding to their environment and interacting with each other. On the other hand, they are meticulously placed around realistic looking human beings like inanimate glove puppets. This divergent approach raises questions about role playing, subconsciousness and the power of emotions: Are the little devils personifications of uncontrollable feelings? And if so, do they prevail or are they merely puppets who only come to life whenever the infantile player wants to?