For nearly 30 years, Brooklyn-born artist
has filled his canvases with semi-abstract cityscapes and signifiers of the New York boroughs in which he made his career. A recent move to Los Angeles is evident in his most recent work, which is on view at KM Fine Arts
in West Hollywood. For his first solo exhibition in L.A., “bright… brighter… brightest
,” Matthews maintains the white hieroglyph-style geometric motif that has filled his work since the 1980s, but the California sky seems to have seeped into the background. Instead of white paint on unprimed taupe canvases, several of the works are painted over colorful gradient backdrops that echo the sunrise and sunset of Los Angeles.
Even the more identifiable elements of his New York work—the buildings, the sneakers, etc.—have mostly been abstracted, as if to reflect the amorphous, indefinite landscape of his new home, where he has lived for the past year. In Untitled 2014 bbb-E
(2014), for instance, only a small portion of the painting contains the signature geometric patterning. The oil-painted pattern floats in a space colored much like the background of an
background gradient—perhaps a clever tribute to Ruscha himself. Elsewhere in the show are gold, blue, and purple hues, not to mention discernable clouds.
A few of the paintings contain remnants of Matthews’ New York style. A cityscape pops up here and there, topped by an overturned sneaker, but it seems more like an act of remembrance. In fact, a few of the paintings contain automobiles driving on roads, scenery more prevalent in his new digs. The paintings are playful sky dances, offering a glimpse into a lateral move from the East to the Western side of America through the eyes of a painter.