Curvilinear Sculptures and Cultural Icons Come Together at a Boston Show

Robert Mars builds up collages of cultural icons—Jackie Kennedy, Kate Moss, Michael Jackson, among others—on newspaper, brown paper bags, and vintage ephemera, then rubs sandpaper on top to achieve a weathered effect. Matt Devine builds voluminous sculptures by welding together small strips of powder-coated metal in black, white, or bright colors. The Boston branch of DTR Modern Galleries brings Mars and Devine together in a surprisingly complementary pairing, in an exhibition that opens later this month.

While Devine’s sculptures are categorically abstract, some individual works suggest organic objects and everyday motifs. Several painted steel sculptures could be read as a series of bird nests or spheres of tumbleweeds. Other works appear mathematical, comprised of intricate repeating patterns that resemble fractals, and others still appear to be complex combinations of punctuation marks. While the works are made of metals like steel, aluminum, and bronze, they appear remarkably weightless, mounted on walls or as freestanding sculptures. This can be attributed to the artist’s effective use of curvilinear parts and dynamic compositions.


Devine once referred to the practice of welding as a “retreat from cultural noise,” and expressed hope that his viewers would find a sense of “inner peace and calmness” in his work. Indeed his aesthetic of simple, pared-down shapes, and clean, fluid lines lends itself well to tranquil effect. 

A similarly harmonious cohesion of materials is present in Mars’s collages of iconic brands and faces. Cultural signifiers take on new visual identities through layers of Xeroxes, found text and imagery mined from the artist’s personal archive, and familiar juxtapositions—like Audrey Hepburn and Tiffany & Co., Mick Jagger and Rolling Stone magazine—all sealed together in a clear resin coating.


On the surface Devine and Mars explore disparate and discrete themes, but when viewed in unison, a shared passion for a repetitive, demanding process and dynamic, thoughtful combinations of materials becomes apparent.


—Anna Furman


Matt Devine and Robert Mars” is on view at DTR Modern Galleries, Boston, Sept. 18–Oct.16, 2015.


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