Recent Solo Exhibitions > Knock on Wood, The Pit, Los Angeles, CA, October 30 - December 18, 2021

The Pit is pleased to present Knock on Wood, the gallery’s first solo exhibition by Joshua Tree-based Ryan Schneider. On view from October 30 – December 18, 2021, with a public reception from 4-7pm on Saturday October 30, this exhibition consists of seven wooden sculptures and two canvases painted with oil pigment sticks. Previously known as a painter, Knock on Wood further establishes Schneider as a skilled colorist while he shifts into sculpture’s potentials for embodiment, both in objecthood and in the artist’s process. Great stamina and physical endur- ance is required as he carves single, 500-pound Torrey Pine logs with chainsaws in his idyllic outdoor-studio setting. In this, site-specificity is embedded in the improvised forms and compositions that borrow as much from Joshua Tree woodlands as early Modernism.

While these sculptures are biomorphic, they procedurally center celebrations of natural environment more than human influence on land- scapes. Schneider’s tools — chainsaw, pigment crayon on raw wood surface — inform angular shaping, and subliminally reference Schneider’s admiration for German Expressionism. Saying hello to wood is a daily joy for Schneider, who’s enchanted by tree spirit mythologies. Celtic traditions, Shinto, Polynesian Tiki, Native American beliefs — all forms of pre-Christian, indigenous nature reverence have reinforced his love of the wilderness he resides in. His relatively new sculptural practice helps him to plug into that sublime “fog” or “blank space” as he calls it, a “gut zone” in which he can express unadulterated fandom for Mother Earth. The rhythmic physicality of his practice, and the forms that are sprung from the wood, harness a primordial human impulse to visually record our existence - an impulse as ancient as cave paintings. These aren’t totem poles evoking religious deities, but they are syncretically totemic, meditative, and in this habit they unabashedly acknowledge the artist’s appreciation for indigenous values as he learns about world cultures and human relationships to the land.

Curiosity is in the driver’s seat as the artworks welcome dialogue about influence (and appropriation) in art history. Adoration is never simple. Schneider’s artworks admit Modernism’s problematic moments to request new spaces for agency and respect. While one may pick up Picasso here, Schneider is also reflecting on his early introductions to art history books found in his hometown in working-class Indiana: Kippenberg- er, Basquiat, Baselitz — all showed the artist wildly colorful paths forward. The line structures and burns following the chainsaw cuts open windows into “three-dimensional painting” as Schneider adds color. His sculptures always have a face, but are “forms with faces” rather than caricatures or symbolic representations. Schneider’s gratitude towards nature has led him into direct conversation with trees, as he continues to discover their gifts.

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