Saturday, October 23, 2010

Matt Connors at Canada

The title of Matt Connors' latest show of paintings "You Don't Know" made me immediately think of the Kirsty MacColl Song "They Don't Know About Us" and the show, which opened last night at Canada on Chrystie street in Chinatown felt to me to be about relationships, the relationships that all artists have to what came before them. Matt's paintings have always displayed their parentage quite blatantly, like the best artists, Matt's work is about what it's like to be a painter of his time.

The Canvases are all the product of one unique artist's vision but they speak of what came before him, painting's immediate history, there's the Albers, the Malevich, The Noland, there even seems to be a ray-o-gram painting and for me, oddest of all there is a tie-dye painting in an elegant, red tray frame that is both raw, emotional, abstract expressionism and cheerful hippie peace and love, but for some reason the frame, which is clearly an integral part of the piece seems to imply a border around a movement and in this case a border which is broken down as the piece straddles two disparate schools from the two decades of the last century that couldn't have been more different, the '50's and the '60's. But as any viewer of Mad Men is seeing, the early sixties still feel a lot like the fifties so where does one end and the other begin? The frame, like words, names, schools and other arbitrary borders clearly says "This is where the painting stops" but does it really need to be cherry red ? ...isn't that going a little too far? ..maybe...just like maybe our desire to categorize and give names to different schools of paintings is maybe a convenient way to learn art history but at a certain point these boundaries just get in the way. Warhol's "Orange Car crash 14 times" is just at home in MoMA's pop galleries as it's minimalist galleries and I think we are seeing, more and more that the unrelenting march of the last century to "Make it New" left a lot of fertile territory un-mined and left behind.

What Matt's works seem to do, for me, is to examine these movements that we have all been subjected to, those with any awareness of the recent past and instead of "Make it New" the impetus seems to be "Make it Mine". There is the Albers' square within a square painting that has, at it's core, a circle. There is the Malevich white on white painting that has instead of a square in a square, a rectangle in a rectangle and even a few extra rectangles. These are not dry lifeless copies a la' Mike Bidlo, rather, Mr. Connors is making highly personal works about who he is and what he is composed of, what his history is.

As all great artists do, Mr. Connors makes the personal, universal.

More information Can be found here...

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