Matthew Abbott
British, born 1965
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Collected by a major museum
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Matthew Abbott is known for painting loud, abstract images filled with block-colored geometric forms and letters that spell out cryptic wordplays. Taking inspiration from a wide range of sources including Islamic symbols, 1960s pop psychedelic imagery, crossword puzzles, and graphic art, Abbott’s noisy compositions point to his love of music and record covers (which also informs his use of square canvases). Despite the proliferation of numerals and letters throughout Abbott’s canvases, which suggest allusions or codes and sometimes provide punning clues to the works’ titles, his patterns and phrases are ultimately nonsensical, produced almost entirely through chance. Abbott orders shapes and forms according to a sort of visual algorithm he establishes before beginning: “To start, a rule is made up. That rule is followed until something happens,” he explains. “The rule must then be …

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