SCREEN TIME // Mathew Zefeldt——SELF LOVE // Breck Hickman // 2.15.19 – 3.10.19
Breck Hickman North woods gas station bathrooms can be stressful after a weekend of camping (2018). Acrylic on canvas. 48”x36”
Mathew Zefeldt Fatality(2017). Acrylic on canvas over panel. 48”x36”
HAIR+NAILS’ first exhibition of Zefeldt’s work and came on the heels of his solo show at The Hole, NYC. Zefeldt chose to share the H+N space with his student Breck Hickman. While both artists make acrylic paintings integrating digital languages: Zefeldt’s “SCREEN TIME” samples computer-generated imagery from video games and blockbuster films; Hickman’s “Self Love” contemplates her gender identity through self-portraiture.
Mathew writes about working with Breck:
“When putting this show together in the city where I teach, I thought it might be interesting to expand the context of my creative work, and think about teaching as well. We are long past the era of master and apprentice (probably for the best), but I think students today still have a distinct sense of “working with someone”. As an art educator, I am not a robot- master of all painting. I come to painting with a very specific perspective, just like all artists do. I tend to teach from that perspective, design assignments around my sensibilities, values, and interests, while still keeping the parameters of assignments broad enough for students to find their own voice. I hope that some of my excitement for painting, or an aspect of who I am, might rub off onto budding artists. Breck Hickman’s work is, I think, a good example of this idea. Breck and I both make acrylic paintings that integrate the digital languages of how we interact with images in the 21st century. My work focuses on digital imaging in popular culture like movies and video games, while Breck’s work contemplates personal spaces; an extension of self portraiture, her gender identity, and also speaks to more broad ideas about gender expression, discrimination, and shattering stereotypes of trans people in popular culture. Stylistic similarities might include painting from photoshop collages, but the similarities also might end there- content is the thing most powerful about Breck’s work, and its content that is by design, only hers. In other words, only Breck can make Breck’s paintings, and that’s important. I hope these concurrent exhibitions of mine and Breck’s work dismantles some hierarchy in education; In the end, we are just two artists teaching and learning from each other.”
Mathew Zefeldt — SCREEN TIME:
There seems to be an ever-increasing grey area between the real and the artificial. My latest body of work is a series of paintings that sample computer generated imagery from video games and blockbuster films. Although my practice looks to digital technology, my time is spent painting. I focus on the repetition, multiplication, and augmentation of images. I think about the idea of gestures in painting relating to software operations being performed in the traditional medium of painting. Images serve as individual marks, micro images like brushstrokes, that form a macro image, system, or pattern. Images are painted repeatedly with a deadpan attitude across the surface of a canvas, creating a predictable rhythm reminiscent of the “tile” function when selecting a desktop background for a computer. Repetition in painting takes pressure off each individual image, and when relaxing the eye, seeing the gestalt, the paintings function like a magic eye or stereogram composition. A myriad of near identical painted images create a kaleidoscopic, patterned, image based post- abstraction. Polygons and pixels in computer generated images become brushstrokes painted by hand. What happens when one paints a representational image which was originally created using computer generated imagery? Does the “filter” of painting erase the filter of the digital?
Breck Hickman —Self Love:
My current work reclaims the social narrative put onto trans women and our bodies through the exploration and representation of my own body, the objects adjacent to it, and the spaces I inhabit. The process of oversharing intimate bodily moments through painting allows me to have complete control in the representation and aesthetic formation of my own form. This type of unapologetic self representation is necessary in combating the history of misrepresentation that surrounds trans women. My work is an act of self love, allowing me to reshape my body in a celebratory declaration of existence, claiming the space and flesh I inhabit for myself in an overwhelming way that demands attention.
Mathew Zefeldt (b. 1987, Antioch, CA) is currently a professor of painting and drawing at University of Minnesota. He received his MFA in studio art from UC Davis in 2011 and went to undergrad at UC Santa Cruz. His work has had solo exhibitions at The Hole, NY; Big Pictures, Los Angeles; The Soap Factory, Minneapolis; Circuit 12, Dallas; Verge Center for the Arts, Sacramento; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis; Good Weather, Little Rock; Hap Gallery, Portland; and Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica. He has been in group exhibitions at Celaya Brothers, Mexico City; Joshua Liner Gallery, NY; Lisa Cooley, NY; MOHS Exhibit, Copenhagen; Left Field, San Luis Obispo; and The Minnesota Museum of American Art, Saint Paul.