Shut-ins and Shootouts
Massimo De Carlo gallery London is pleased to present Shut-ins and Shootouts, a new exhibition by the American artist Matthew Monahan.
In his practice Matthew Monahan (California, 1972) addresses the human body by challenging the ideas of figuration and form, transforming different ranges of materials into anthropomorphic shapes through rhythm and composition, constantly shifting between violence and delicacy.
Sculptures and drawings are part of the new bodies of work that Matthew Monahan uses to create a humorous yet sinister play where each character addresses a narrative about resilience, violence and liberation. The elicitation of classicism becomes the medium that enables the artist to tackle and confront the ferocity and anxiety that entrench the narrative of today’s world.
The Shootout works lined up in the window of the gallery are plexiglas-framed layers of paper that Monahan shoots through with a gun from the back, altering the features of the printed drawing of a Greco-Roman evoking visage. Here each bullet shot creates an open wound: the intensity and strength of Monahan’s gesture releases these fictional figures from their historic trappings into a strangely playful and witty stage of multiplicity.
On the ground floor four mesmerizing hologram-like sculptures are confined in dark aluminium boxes, caught in between Monahan’s Hollywood style evocation of the classical and amused prophesying of the digital future. These sculptures, which are concealed and enhanced by the framing box, invite the viewer to step into a cinematographic dimension, where the perception of space is challenged. The material subtly recalls the cold aesthetic of technology whilst together with the composition it highlights the phenomenology and influences of Californian minimalism.
The dynamism and severity of the gesture, which is key in Monahan’s practice, is translated on the first floor into charcoal drawings and bronze casting. The violent action of the artists’ hands, whether it’s holding a knife or a pencil, allows layers of figures and masks to emerge through cutting and slicing: as if they were multiple personalities of the same persona, tangible examples of new forms of disfiguration in a contemporary context.
Shut-ins and Shootouts is a theatrical display of a secret and expressionist language where Monahan intertwines philosophical and semantic references with the candour and rigour of the artist, who clinches the current and shapes the impending.