Tony Wight Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Chicago based artist Matthew Metzger.
If we consider painting as an object of study encased within, but not limited to, its history, rhetoric, and judgment, then where do we begin to catch its likeness? Beginning at its “End” is precisely the moment when painting is most vulnerable and fertile: when the artist’s intention is displaced by a painting’s commodification and composition is rendered provisional by context.
The line connects, always retaining a beginning and an end, existing paradoxically as a simultaneous agent of circumvention and division. It is its own order and its own system with demands on how we look, how we understand, and how we navigate through any given territory. The paintings in Backdrop are depictions of a specific collection of objects curated into a conversation regarding the line and its presence in two endpoints in painting, from one end, the production line, and from the other end, Daniel Buren. Together, these paintings work towards traversing that line, searching for a between that can be named without opposition.
This between-ness begins with Kick Plate, a painting specifically depicting a new brass kick plate manufactured to cover most standard sized doors. The paintings titled Guard, of ‘mudflaps’ taken from semi-trailer trucks, are presented here as a small selection of a larger ongoing series of paintings continuing indefinitely. These paintings capitalize on the anonymity of the marks produced through the abuse of linearity, the rigor of hauling and moving commodities. Simultaneously, these paintings cite the moment in Abstraction’s history when the artist’s ‘signature’ was no longer observed as the autograph but was seen as the very composition on the canvas, and so together here signaling the anonymity of authorship.
In Situ refers to, but is not limited by, the iconic stripes of Daniel Buren. Here the vertical stripes simultaneously represent both the generic nameless laborer of the production line (Buren’s fabrics) and a “classic” American identity. The negative silhouette oscillates between icons, Springsteen and Buren, the laborer and the spectator. Absence is conflated with identity and displacement with location. Buren contextualized painting as outside of the ‘institution’ and simultaneously privatized it’s meaning, transforming the spectator into the laborer, the maker/identifier of meaning according to ones ability to recognize. Here, the recognition that takes place is through an absence, a void that points to where meaning is located after painting’s end.
Concurrently shown with Backdrop will be a solo exhibition for Sreshta Rit Premnath titled The Last Image. As coeditors of Shifter Magazine, Metzger and Premnath will be releasing Shifter issue 18: Intention at the opening reception on April 20th. Metzger and Premnath are also collaborating on a 25 print limited edition project in conjunction with the exhibitions.
Matthew Metzger (American, b. 1978) received his MFA from the University of Chicago in 2009 and in the same year participated in the Skowhegan School of Sculpture and Painting residency program. Recent exhibitions include projects at Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Catherine Bastide, Brussels and a solo exhibit at Arratia Beer, Berlin. This June, Metzger will be featured at Art Statements, Art|43|Basel. Metzger is the co-editor of Shifter Magazine, an online and print magazine founded by Sreshta Rit Premnath. This is his second solo exhibition with Tony Wight Gallery.