As part of a two-person exhibition at Meridian Gallery with collagist Dennis Parlante entitled “Regarding Configurations”, Matt Gonzalez has created works with both paper and found, wood objects. On view, congested layers of materials visually intersperse in both color and medium. Intricate layering of paper shapes rise up to form an actual shallow space that incorporates shadow and relief. The mystery of how each of these forms could possibly create a unified composition remains undisclosed. Gonzales appears to rely on intuitive methods.
Gonzales undermines his formal arrangements with a sense of play. Simultaneously, he brings in San Francisco’s visual culture through his use of locally found materials. The copy-cut-paste cycles that are incorporated into collage make his work not only a reflection of our time or place, but also a reflection of a personal culture that is unique to Gonzalez. He employs materials that have been scouted from the streets of his hometown San Francisco. A sense of identification arises upon viewing his series of collages in yellow containg textual information that point to the San Francisco MOMA, the Meridian Gallery, the Art Institute, the De Young Museum and to local businesses.
Not all of the collages contain text, however. There is a room donned with all-white compositions with titles such as Beauty, Paleness and Minima Moralia. These pieces essentially reflect Robert Ryman’s interest in whites and Louis Nevelson’s white wood works, such as Dawn’s Wedding Chapel IV. However, Gonzalez’s works function as small-nested paper pieces that are rectilinearly formatted in composition. The interplay of white upon white brings the viewer’s perceptions into tight focus with the use of subtle colorations that incite intrigue. The tonal qualities and brightness variations are masterful in their expression.
Another room filled with all black collages display titles such as November, Fresh and Cult of Beauty. The viewer is immersed into these miniaturized, intimate fields with multiple variants of black. The works containing text draw one in to examine typographical features. They become a reference and a marker of our visual culture, while concurrently creating them. Most edges are clean and crisply defined with geometric shapes coalescing into a grid. This is quite fitting, as the found paper pieces that flood the collage are from an urban setting.
The multiple small paper works hold their fragments tightly in the center at times. To differentiate, other collages spread across the entire page to create a nominal sense of boundarylessness. Are these avenues employed to create meaning or are they instead a meandering of experimentation—or are they both? The question remains unresolved.
Not all of the works in this exhibition are monochromatic. Small sets of multi-colored paper collages engage us near the entry—exhibiting bright blues, lime greens, yellows, oranges, reds and more. The exciting stimulation of color with various interactions is found within tiny, enclosed spaces. The synthesis of color and varying intensities are just another avenue Gonzalez explores. This is mirrored in a number of his wood collages, such as in the simply titled #2. Strips of colored wood present a grid-like framework that overlays collaged paper—this time with torn paper pieces. Organic meets mechanic in this particular all-over composition—a synthesis of disparate parts.
It will be of interest to follow future, formal explorations of Matt Gonzalez. His work is connected to artistic traditions of the past and future. Gonzalez makes collage a new and experimental medium, as he references visual culture and the identity of a specific place whether seen in found materials or layered typography. The formal approach he engages is endless, yet non-repetitive. Gonzalez is sure to continue producing surprising results.
By. Kathryn Arnold