George Billis Gallery is pleased to present the gallery's first solo exhibition of work by Matt Duffin. The exhibition features the artist's recent encaustic paintings and continues through March 31st.
Duffin's darkly playful encaustic paintings are whimsical yet also overtly social and political commentaries on contemporary life. The tactile surface quality of Duffin's work is achieved by his layering of black encaustic wax on a smooth surface and then scratching and rubbing with metal tools to draw forth the image. With a precision that speaks to the artist's training in architecture, these works spin tales that draw the viewer in and captivate with their unique mystery and solitude.
Duffin writes of his work, "I've been attracted to the dark for as long as I can remember. When I was young, the darker it got, the more magical things became. I relished the night and its mysterious, lightless reality the most. Among the stars, shadows, and never-ending expanse of the night sky, the potential for self-discovery seemed limitless. My most vivid memories of darkness are from the theater. As a child, the theater felt like an otherworldly playground of extended twilight. The lights died quickly at the edges of the stage, leaving everything surrounding it in a murky, fleeting half-light. This periphery intrigued me to no end: though it was dreamlike, it was just as believable as the one being acted out on stage. It gradually gave way to darkened corridors and felt like the shore of a vast ocean.
My fascination with this nocturnal world continued into adulthood. As an architecture student in college, I would sometimes tag along after hours with one of my closest friends, a gifted pianist, to the empty auditorium of the music school. Lying on my back in the dark directly beneath the grand piano, I would turn myself over to the eloquent, despairing improvisations coming from above. As I let my mind merge with the somber river of notes, a powerful feeling of melancholy would overcome me. Unencumbered by worries, I would find my way to a place in the surrounding void where I could freely work out designs and spaces for my projects from class.
Looking back, I clearly see the origins of the powerful connection to darkness that has become integral to the art that I make. My current work is ostensibly an outgrowth of the same, sublime connection, albeit on a somewhat more developed and sophisticated level. While overtones of humor and sarcasm mitigate feelings of quiet desperation, the backdrop is always a variation of that stage or piano and its surrounding sea of darkness."
Matt Duffin was born in 1968, grew up in Houston Texas and received his received a B.S. in architecture from the University of Houston, Texas, in 1991. Duffin's work has received critical recognition from museum curators and private collectors of national acclaim. Tracy Bashkoff, Associate Curator for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, began the trend by selecting his work for Encaustic Works '03: Fourth International Biennial Exhibition at the Marist College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY. At the Los Angeles Art Show in 2007, Michael Govan, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and former Deputy Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, singled out his work and brought it to the attention of Lynda and Stewart Resnick, LACMA's most esteemed benefactors. Govan then facilitated the acquisition of one of Duffin's pieces by the Resnicks' Roll International Corporation, which added another piece to its collection a year later. Other notable collections include The Progressive Art Collection, the Crocker Art Museum, the Tulman Collection of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the private collections of Carlie Wilmans, Director of the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, and Eleanor Notides (Senior Vice President of Christie's in New York). His work has been exhibited nation-wide and has appeared in Artnews, The Morning News, NYArts Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Elephant Magazine (London), The Sacramento Bee, Studio Visit Magazine, Communication Arts Illustration Annual and Zyzzyva, among other publications. Duffin has lived in Spain, Costa Rica, and Taos, New Mexico and currently resides in northern California with his wife and two children.