March 15, 2008

Matt Connors at Canada

In his first solo show at Canada, Matt Connors presents a predictably sloppy version of modernism. Although I don't see the "rigor of an Ellsworth Kelly " that's mentioned in the press release (are they pulling my leg?), the awkward color, not-quite geometric shapes and flat-footed paint handling have a certain haphazard appeal. Clearly impulse, rather than the "careful plotting" outlined in the statement, is the artist's strength. Connors, who received his MFA from Yale University last year, has recently exhibited work in group and solo shows at The Breeder in Athens, LuttgenMeijer in Berlin and China Art Objects in Los Angeles. He lives in Los Angeles.

In the NY Sun, Stephen Maine declares that Connors' installation is like a cocktail party. "In his meticulous installation, paintings are paired off as if in conversation; the visitor just drops in....Accordingly, each of these paintings is meant to flow into and prop up another. 'Reading Room' does this literally, deploying two paintings as sculptural elements, arranged on a shallow shelf. Upon a white canvas with black rectangles marking its corners leans another, slightly smaller and deep blue. At that painting's center is an irregular grid that looks something like a picked-over box of chocolates. In its allusive imagery as well as the dynamic relationships among its constituents, Mr. Connors's exhibition equates social and pictorial space, and wittily chips away at the distinction between art and life." Read more.

Kind of like a cocktail party at a really nice loft, where the drinks may be weak, but the atmosphere and conversation make hanging around worth your while. Frankly, I find the installation fetishization currently permeating gallery and museum exhibitions a bit like overwrought interior decoration.

"Matt Connors: Enjambment," Canada, New York, NY. Through April 20.

Related posts:
Jukkala doesn't name names in New Haven

Love letter to painting in LA

1 comments:

One could see Connors’ pencil line as a type of scaffolding (or plotting) to which he then responds. I agree with your observation of the weight impulse appears to play, but I cannot help but consider that his impulse coincides with system (ie plotting). I don’t know if I see a push on Connors part to give more merit to one or the other (but maybe that is how I want to understand it-not as dichotomy but as whole).

I do agree that Kelly would not be the first reference to come to mind when approaching the work. I felt Connors’ work had stronger references to Palermo and Knoebel, especially his strategies for display. I also enjoyed his playful approach to color.

In the end, I would say the show was less about painting and more about an idea of painting. But isn’t that an albatross of contemporary abstract painting?

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