"A recent conversation with a closeted dyke who is a PHD Student in architecture at Western University in London, Ontario, prompted my queerie (sic) about modernism and queer identities. Her comments about the truth of materials in late modernist architectural practice led me to believe that the notion was a partial fallacy. For example, the use of wood in modernist buildings looks like wood but, in reality it is not actually truthful. Wood would look like a tree if it were to be even remotely representational. Yet, I was intrigued by the idea that any creative material could have inherent culturally specific meanings. Might glitter be the domain of children and drag queens?
"Matte is an exhibition that aims to reclaim the formalist elements of late modernisms – that of abstraction and that with postmodern and meta-modern twists – to reclaim abstraction for queers. I might be so inclined to believe that, at this juncture in history that as humans, and including queers, we might be completely over-represented. Figurative representation, conversely, has been absolutely necessary in forming queer identities over the past century and even more importantly during the height of the AIDS epidemic. We were here – we were and are alive. What though of our inner lives and those ideas that need a form but can only be expressed in formalist and abstract terms? I posit a Post-Identity framework for Matte.
"I have had the distinct pleasure of working on a queer archive for the History Department at the University of Manitoba of artists of all descriptions whose practice took place in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The archive is an examination of creative queers who left North America, pre-Stonewall, to essentially be freer in Europe and maintain their artistic practices. Many gay men working in abstraction in this time period were basically forced out of America and specifically the New York cliques of hetero-male dominated abstraction, minimalism, op art, pop art (except Andy of course) and early conceptualism. Matte is for these artists excluded and perhaps even expelled for their sexuality. I am profoundly grateful to the work of Winnipeg painter Derek Dunlop who has been working on reclaiming abstract painting as an inherently queer artistic endeavor and to Dr. David Churchill at the University of Manitoba. I have also been inspired by the writings of Los Angeles-based art historian Tom Folland, whose research is along similar lines to the archive – looking at queer artists in North America of this time period. Folland aims to reclaim the late modern as profoundly queer in aesthetic and meaning.
"Matte is a playful look at the queer codification of materials and a hearty nod to our predecessors. This exhibition is also meant to revere some of those in the contemporary art community as well as historical figures who have shaped the cultural aspects of queer. I have created Marsden Hartely-styled portraiture to honour some of these people.
"I will always believe that 'all that glitters is gold'. Matte is an examination and a continuation of playing with aesthetics that are beyond my own accepted practice yet remain true to my own history, identity and style."
Andrew Harwood is a Winnipeg-based artist and a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Over the years he has held a variety of positions in artist-run centres including A Space, Toronto and is a past general manager of C Magazine. His recent exhibitions include Séancé at Platform Centre for Digital and Media Arts and The Bob McLobster Show at The Edge, both in Winnipeg. Harwood is currently running a new gallery venture in Manitoba called Zsa Zsa West located in Winnipeg's Chinatown district. He is working on his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba and will graduate in 2014 with his thesis exhibition Funeral Camp.
Permanent collections include the Bank of Montréal, Toronto, the University of Guelph, Guelph, ON and Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. His work is collected privately in Canada and the United States.
Matte is Andrew Harwood's ninth solo exhibition at Paul Petro Contemporary Art since 2001.