Harper’s is pleased to open its 2015 exhibition season with Matthew King’s first solo show, This Side Down. Two discrete bodies of work will be presented: a series of stripe paintings on propped Oriented Strand Board (OSB), and a series of photographs adhered to painted aluminum panels. A video installation by Clark McLean Graham, an artist with whom King periodically collaborates, will play in the front window. The exhibition’s opening night marks the launch of King's first publication, a small-run zine. Both artists will be in attendance.
An emerging artist based in Boston, King confronts the aesthetic and thematic boundaries developed by the Minimalists during the 1960s and 1970s. His works employ techniques specific to hard-edge painting and photo collage, taking the form of three-dimensional objects that defy easy categorization. They function both as pictures and sculptures, always insisting on their spatial presence. He leaves his industrially produced materials rawly exposed and accentuates their peculiar qualities with bold geometric shapes and dynamic optical patterns. Thick layers of acrylic paint are applied with a brush, yet the lines are executed with rigid precision. Each work’s frame is assembled by hand but left wholly unadorned. King sets up a tension between the impersonal character of the prefabricated materials he uses and the direct touch of his craft, at once cohering with Minimalism's aesthetic tendencies and jettisoning them.
King’s intimate engagement with the materiality of his work reinserts the hand of the artist, which Minimalists such as Donald Judd, Frank Stella, Carl Andre, and Daniel Buren sought to eradicate. His ambivalent relationship to the conventions he inherits is most evident in his series of collaged aluminum panels. In these works, King brazenly paints diagonal color fields around photographs sharply cropped from the pages of Mad Men era magazines. The truncated images draw on uniquely American themes like rugged individualism, exploration and conquest, and competitive sport. King’s interventions heighten the mythologies behind these tropes by reframing them as moments of unresolved action. When this series is hung together as a grid, the crisscross patterns disorient the viewer in a way similar to how the optical lines painted on the prop pieces constantly shift one’s focus. It is as if King’s relationship to his appropriated historical and thematic content is as restless as the eye that beholds his elusive compositions.
Matthew King (b. 1986, Boston, MA) received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2010, where he was granted the Edward Movitz Painting Award. This Side Down will focus on King’s studio practice from 2014 to the present.