In Matthew Metzger’s UBS 12 x 12 show Nocturne, two paintings-one depicting the cover of 1980s R&B group Surface’s self-titled debut album, and the other a rubber band lying coiled on a bare panel-frame a set of ten paintings, each depicting a colored sheet of paper from a pad of artist’s paper. These paintings visually replicate the accurate dimension, color, and finish of the flat, two-dimensional sheets of paper along with every minute detail of the fibers, scratches, and surface marks. This blurs the difference between the painting and the original paper object, as both come together on the same plane. To do this, Metzger unites two opposing artistic traditions: 16th-century trompe l’oeil painting and 20th-century minimal and conceptual art, one tradition seeking to eliminate reality in favor of a heightened sense of illusion, the other to remove all illusion in favor of a heightened sense of reality.
Metzger’s paintings suspend the difference between these two traditions aimed at creating an awareness for the difference between reality and illusion. The result is a visual experience where what the viewer sees and what the viewer knows-the sensual and conceptual experience of the surface of objects-equally contradict and support one another. The result of this paradoxical situation is a chance to reflect on how our perception of surfaces and colors shape and form our understanding of objects.