Kavi Gupta Gallery CHICAGO is proud to present Matthew Metzger’s Waver, the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery.
The three works in this exhibition stem from Metzger’s ongoing inquiry into Abstraction, and its relationship to the copy as a way of positioning painting between the limits of figuration and the sign.
Previously known to viewers as Ghost, a work that Metzger originally exhibited at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago,Apparition (2013) now stands simultaneously as a new work and a ‘picture’ of its past. The approach here is epitomic of Metzger’s practice as it oscillates between sign and object, image and body. Apparition retains all of the marks and scrapes on its surface from weather and traction as museum goers leaned against and brushed its surface throughout its duration at the Smart Museum. Marks that when framed and re-presented as such, serve to depict its past signifying certain histories.
The other two exhibited works – entitled The Other Side of One and Three Signs (Left) and The Other Side of One and Three Signs (Right) (both works 2013) – emphasize Metzger’s ongoing interest into the awkward incongruity found between a sign and its support/ground. The shape refers to a particular street sign, as each is painted Ultimatte Green (a specific video green used for maintaining extreme detail in a subjects silhouette while compositing two images in television post-production) all-the-while functioning as a provisional “ground” for issuing the body an artificial and temporary context to occupy through mediation. Each of these two works also depict the shadow of each side of a clamp that becomes twisted in its depiction as it points outward, in front of the paintings surface, to the space of viewing.
Likewise, here the viewing space of Waver again points outward, as Metzger has chosen to paint the walls of this exhibition the color of the specific viewing room at The National Gallery in Washington D.C. where Edouard Manet’s painting The Dead Man (The Dead Toreador)” currently hangs. For Metzger, this particular Manet painting has been the entry point to his use of the Scuba “Diver Down” emblem project since 2010. For this reason, color serves as a vector, a backdrop, and an atmosphere simultaneously.
Like many of Metzger’s paintings, the works draw such great attention to the material qualities of the represented thing that what is represented inherently begins to abstract itself, obfuscating one’s notions of language and naming. The recurring embodiment of this in Metzger’s work is the sign. Much like the figure in its relationship to figure painting, Metzger employs the sign – SCUBA signs and other transportation signs – as a flattening of what is represented and its form. For the artist, the dismantling of the historical distance between a form and its content can be mobilized by the abstraction found when the two become indistinguishably close.