Postmodern theorists of the 1980s pointed out the absence, or rather the unfulfilled presence, at the heart of painting. But painting has always been about yearning. The naked self-evidence of the objects in Matthew F Fisher’s paintings withdraws, borne by its own bluntness, into inscrutable mystery. Plain as day, they still leave us wondering. This mystery is an effect, deployed knowledgeably but no less genuinely, as it is a property already present in the world to which Fisher is attuned. Despite what he has written, Fisher does not need an excuse to paint a pearl. Like. a painting itself, it is but a momentary concentration of forces that would, from a broader time frame, continue unabated were they not reified into a commodity.
Fashionable theory would have it that paintings as loci of attention are better blurred into ingratiating systems or image streams, but this is itself a reification of the interpretive freedom that painting has always offered. Instead of flattering the viewer by effacing himself, Fisher paints the cosmic indifference that lies as much in a shell as a star. But in a move that can only be called human, Fisher shows this indifference to be manicured, almost comically idealized, into an image of our impulse to put things in order. Here, the gigantic and minuscule meet and mingle under the long shadow of history, where associations gather and cling.
Text written by Vittorio Colaizzi. Colaizzi has published on Robert Ryman, Thornton Willis, JoanThorne, and Trudy Benson and is an associate professor of art history at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He is currently working on a study of composition in abstract painting after minimalism.
Matthew F Fisher (b.1976, Boston, MA) recent solo exhibitions include Soft Nature, Ochi Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2019), After the Ice, Taymour Grahne, London (2019), Strange Light, Over Under Room, Brooklyn, NY (2018), Into the Blue, Johansson Projects, Oakland, CA (2018) and Observable Universe, Taymour Grahne Gallery, NewYork, NY (2017). Group shows include Paper View at The Hole, New York, NY (2019), Perspex: American Shift, Spazio22, Milan, Italy (2019), the two artist exhibition Night Waves, with Casey Cook, at SHRINE, New York, NY (2018), Pro Forma: Context and Meaningin Abstraction, curated by Vittorio Colaizzi, Work Release, Norfolk, VA (2017), and Crunch, The Breeder, Athens (2017). He is the recipient of residencies and awards from the Pollock Krasner Foundation (2016), Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, New York(2015, 2007) and the New York Foundation for the Arts (2010), among others. Fisher received his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University (2000) and his BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design (1998).