Matthew Rich
San Diego, CA


Artist’s Statement

“Formalism has always been shot through with hybridity, it dreams of purebreds and ends up describing mutts.” – Lane Relyea, “Virtually Formal,” Artforum, September 1998

My cut paper paintings get rid of the canvas and its hired muscle, the stretcher bar. Their surfaces are built piece-by-piece, the compositions growing and contracting freely without structural restraint. Individual colors and shapes are always open to edit or exchange in procedures both deliberate and chance-based. My process generates a carefully constructed sense of unpredictability that is pointed, ultimately, toward an integrated, resolved whole. My works formulate a relationship between material and image that suggests equal exchange: they pit the specific against the uncertain, the malleable and the shifting. These paintings aim to articulate this kind of ambiguous flexing in a sustained and systematic manner.

I direct my work toward people's emotions. Emotional play and the significant impact of emotional structures within people and institutions and situations and embedded in interfaces of all kinds is what I find most interesting and powerful in the world and this is why I make the work that I do. While my work has many precedents in visual history, including: Richard Tuttle, Ron Davis, Lynda Benglis and Ellsworth Kelly to name just a few, I have been very influenced by the startling experiential charge in Alison Knowles’ Event Scores from 1961 and Michael Asher’s work, specifically a piece he did at the Gladys K. Montgomery Gallery at Pomona College in 1970. These works test the audience’s creativity in ways that are direct and transformative.

At the Fountainhead Residency, I would continue my exploration of studio-based processes that yield, for the viewer, a range of investigatory experiences. Sometimes these experiences are choreographed tightly by a play with illusion and dimensionality that has long standing roots in art history, while at other times the work, with its use of the universally recognized language of accident: the rip, the spill, the fold, deposits the viewer in the world of the everyday. The goal is to make an experience that is absorbing and thickly emotional but also transparent, skeletal and analytic.

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