Devening Projects is pleased to present J A Zed Zed, Matt Rich’s third solo show with the gallery. The exhibition will open on Sunday, September 9th and will continue until October 13th.
Matt Rich has created a significant body of work that resists traditional notions of visuality, objectness and display within the history of painting. His painted wall-works are not exactly pictorial and not exactly very-shallow relief sculpture, but more like hybrids that position themselves assertively in front of us and fully within the space around us.
There is an authority to this work that comes from the discovery, reuse and assembly of historical moments of its own production. Remnants of old canvases, cut up paper and found objects are reshaped to define new visual strategies of organization and form. The complexity and physicality of material, color and assembly leads one to wonder at the nature of his process and encourage close investigation of the surfaces of each work.
Within the rich history of Japanese culture, worn and patched fabrics (boro) and broken pottery repaired with gold (kintsugi) are beautiful examples of how an object can transition from one state to another, even—and especially—when that object is no longer in its original “perfect” state. I often think of a respect for the fragment when I look at Matt Rich’s work. He has the ability to see the value of small elements and their potential reorganization within a community of others to build something that is a fulfilling sum total of its parts.
The sensitivity to materials and process is evident and celebrated in J A Zed Zed. Although the painting-objects we see commanding the walls of the gallery have grown organically through a process of collection and accumulation, they establish themselves as emblematic statements of resolute clarity. The work is both visibly constructed and compositionally unified, like a carefully crafted machine whose parts are visible and reveal their function. Although there is a strategy of skillful part-alignment and joinery, these moves act to strengthen the overall system and language of form.
When installed and fully designed as an exhibition, the work explicitly blurs the boundaries of conventional display—co-opting the walls of the space, the works become marks or gestures in a larger context. Common systems of display for painting (marks-on-surface-on-support) or object (sculpture-on-pedestal-on-floor) are expanded into a looser, fluid exchange between these categorical elements. The physical and spatial negotiations required by these paintings set this visual language off against the sculptural, architectural space of the room. These spatial conversations further complicate the viewer’s experience and implicate a broader dialogue about the politics of presentation.
(born 1976) Matt Rich received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a BA from Brown University and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Rich’s work has been exhibited in venues such as the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, BravinLee Programs in New York City, VOLTA NYC and VOLTA Basel, DODGEGallery in New York City, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, and Columbus College of Art + Design, among others. His solo exhibitions include Project Row Houses in Houston, Devening Projects in Chicago, Samsøn in Boston, and The Suburban in Oak Park, IL. Rich’s work has been reviewed by Modern Painters, Artforum and Art Papers. He has contributed text to The Benefits of Friends v.2 published by Project X Foundation for Art & Criticism, and curated Action Kits, a community-based exhibition of interactive art at Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts in 2015. Matt lives and works in San Diego, CA.