Gregory Lind Gallery is pleased to present Garden Ruin, a new exhibition of work by London-based artist Bob Matthews. Matthews depicts romantic, mysterious landscapes steeped in the wild disorder of the natural world. His representations of nature, in its contradictory fluctuation between chaos and serenity, are complemented by a technologically enhanced approach. Matthews’ use of computers, airbrush, and printmaking techniques emulates the changeability of nature while creating idealized images that suggest unruffled, pristine surfaces. His aesthetic emphasizes incongruous objects and elements, while offering a fascinating conceptualization of the chasm between what is seen and how it is rendered.
The works that assemble Garden Ruin create an excursion into strange yet familiar places— forest clearings, hedgerows, fields, private gardens, and bodies of water—superimposed with shapes and objects that insinuate an unseen human presence, which imposes order from the outside. In the multi-layered digital piece, "Garden Ruin 1," we identify a crafted landscape full of human craft and endeavor, in which the structure and function of the garden become increasingly ambiguous. Matthews’ work is largely influenced by his own experience of gardens in northern Europe and the manner in which they succumb to the harshness of winter each year. This seasonal dilapidation—detailing a pared-down version of a plant or other natural entity that evinces the previous glory of past summers—approximates a ruin, particularly in the commingling of architecture and ecology.
While the landscape of ruin acts as a metaphor for the human condition, the garden is also a living entity that facilitates the possibility of social exchange and ideologies, offering a meeting place, a space for contemplation, or a landscape for tending to. Matthews also tampers with the romantic landscape tradition, which embellishes gardens with objects that become weathered over time, producing snapshots of the past that remain embedded within the landscape. This is evident in the painting "Historical Elements," where we encounter an assemblage of aging wooden objects in the outdoor environment.
However, Matthews’ arrangements are not simply signifiers of the past; they are also attempts to calibrate the emotional resonance of a particular place. The work also combines figurative and landscape elements, such as ghostly remnants of trees and faces that merge with vibrant squiggles and orbs which appear to demarcate a presence that stands outside of time. The images appear as playful, idiosyncratic manifestations of the environment’s spirit, gesturing to an emotional core that has no visual analogue in space.
Bob Matthews received his MA in Fine Art Printmaking at Royal College of Art, London. His recent exhibitions include Borderland, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London, 2009; Superscope, Lounge/Monika Bobinska, London, 2008; and Face Yourself, Keith Talent Gallery, London, 2008. His work has been profiled in various publications, including Art Monthly, Flash Art, the Guardian, Metro, Modern Painters, The New York Times, and Tema Celeste. His recent curatorial projects include Hope & Despair, Cell Project Space, London. Matthews’ work is in private and public collections throughout Europe and the United States, including the Aspen Museum of Contemporary Art, Colorado; Ecole de Beaux Arts, Toulouse, France; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, UK. This is Matthews’ third solo exhibition with Gregory Lind Gallery. He lives and works in London, and teaches at the city’s Royal College of Art.