Facing His Fears

The world is a scary place to Leonel Matheu

Artist Leonel Matheu seems to have a skull full of anxiety regarding the human condition. Consequently his is a provocative world where a sweaty little fellow whimsically grapples with the suffocating hold of life’s uncertainties. “Maneuvers,” his solo show opening tonight at Dot Fiftyone Art Space, features a jaw-dropping collection of paintings, videos, and installations.

Rather than adopting an optimistic head-in-the-sand approach, the artist’s odd munchkin alter ego confronts life’s testy screwballs with a sense of detached unease. In a spooky installation, Matheu places a wooden Victorian gingerbread house on a wall, painted to resemble a denuded forest. Pointy blades of grass appear like menacing shark fins cutting across a lawn. In a video shown through a pair of windows, the bantamweight sprite opens and closes the shutters as if afraid of what might be lurking outside. A coyote’s howls mix with the sniveling wind and send the figure ducking for cover.

In most of his works, Matheu’s flyspeck of a dude senses it is a big, bad world we live in and warns us to keep our tail feathers tucked or risk getting them sheared.
Sat., April 8, 7 p.m.
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