Seamlessly blending boundaries between painting and sculpture, Matt Connors’ work carries a raw human essence without actually displaying a bodily figure or representational form. His canvases (and their subsequent extensions) are ripe with corporeal trace in their recurring patterns and swathes of demure color. Their surface brings to mind the smell of skin just after waking or the scent of fragrant coffee lingering on an unkempt moustache. Touch plays a critical role. His hand is ever-present, but not overbearing. Canvases brush together as one shade bleeds into the next like bodies leaning on each other for support during the final moments of a stellar Pulp concert. Words and numbers occasionally activate the ears in the silent pauses from one work to the next. Connors has perfected his technique of frottage—utilizing the heavier paint on one canvas to rub off on another. Printmakers call this process a ‘kiss-off’, a term aptly applied in this instance. His actions create pictures that are abundantly rich in both texture and facture, but maintain a visceral quality beyond the immediate surface of the canvas.
Connors’ newer works may appear cleaner and more reserved at first (cursory) glance, yet still hold all the emotional weight of his previous exercises. A solid wash of color consumes an entire painting. A single line steadies us in a sea of overbearing technical images too often experienced in today’s current art market. His forms have become reduced and his colors a bit bolder. We, as the audience, are ever reminded of our own physical presence in relation to his works; the two are inseparable at times as one navigates the space of the gallery. A subtle confidence rests beneath the facade of his recent constructions as Connors’ appears deftly aware of the tension filling in the blank spaces of the gallery’s white walls.
From tandem solo shows at significant Berlin galleries Lüttgenmeijer and VeneKlassen/Werner, to a substantial hanging at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, and a two-person exhibition with Marc Hundley currently on view at London’s Herald St., Connors is trudging along the path to success paved with patience and diligence. Did I mention he also just won the Guggenheim? Of course, he would never acknowledge these milestones if you ran into him on a night out. Ever the humble creature, Connors approaches his achievements with the same focus as his working practice: all in due course.
Matt Connors, Folkways (second version), 2012, Two artist frames 2 parts, each part: 122 x 102 cm / 48 x 40.1 in Overall: 225 x 102 x 32 cm / 88.5 x 40.1 x 12.5 in. Courtesy the artist.
(Image on top right: Matt Connors, My Suitor, 2011. Acrylic on Canvas in Two Parts. 170 x 260 cm. Courtesy of the artist.)