The highlight of the exhibition is a new nearly-ten-minute-long video, titled Studio Agony (Revisited), made in 2015. The short movie was shot in a mostly empty, half-constructed space, presumably a very large studio building in the process of being partitioned into smaller spaces. Farm animals wander through the space, interacting with it and experiencing it in an all-but-natural state. At points in the video, Tannatt is seen hovering over the animals, suspended from the floor as if floating. Viewers might recall Joseph Beuys’s How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965), which also explored the human-mediated relationship between art and nature.
Tannatt’s sculptures, such as Untitled (Blue), 2015, formally resemble the work of minimalists such as Tony Smith, with their hulking, bending forms. The sculpture’s bright blue (recurrent in other of the exhibition’s artworks) recalls the red, green, and blue (RGB) colors of cathode ray-tube television sets. Another 2015 sculpture, Untitled (Cast big boot), combines a wonky, playful shoe-like form, cast in pigmented plaster, with a base painted with atmospheric fields of RGB.
Two paintings, Barn Painting 10 and Barn Painting 7, both from 2015, continue the RGB motif, with silkscreened lines of color arranged in spare geometric designs on imposingly tall canvases. The forms created here are allusive, but invite the viewer to make associations about what they might refer to or represent. Tannatt has insinuated that many of his images relate to aerial photography, and in that way they appear like simplified cousins of Peter Halley works. One final iteration of the motif is found in Untitled (Red door) (2015): a red urethane cast of a door, echoing the vertical red stripes found in Tannatt’s paintings.
The intellectual intention of Tannatt’s work may be opaque to viewers, but the interrelation of the formal elements is enlightening, bringing together the contributions of earlier artists and knitting them together.
“Mateo Tannatt: HORSE” is on view at Gallery Diet, Miami, Mar 13–May 2, 2015.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory