Painting was never autonomous. It was always contingent. Nature is a great reminder. When I paint outside and look at trees I’m reminded of how contingent forms seem to be on the space around them. As a painter, it’s my job to collapse that space, air and light. This process is a revelation for two reasons: air has mass, and forces you can’t see act on reality. I’m not talking about spirits, through I’m into it. I’m talking about gravity, mass and time. They run everything. My found object paintings remind me of the nature of this reality. Everything is hung and suspended and unattached. Cells fall apart, leaves slip. It’s terrifying to me and feels more so lately.
Coronavirus yells at us “wake the fuck up!” Too many planes, I guess, too much abuse. An 83 year old friend of mine says we are suiciding. Period. The heat, the bugs, the bug, it’s like the whole theme of my adult life is turning out to be about a grey heavy end.
Nature persists though and is exquisitely beautiful. The work I’m doing with found objects and nature combined is maybe getting at some sense of a precarious contingency. They are not disembodied picture planes, but forms derived from the architecture of a tree with a contingent friend, a contingent meaning. A real thing, plastic, wood, antique or new, with the support as a hanger for image and object. They are separable and/or together. Yes, you could just take the thing off, yes it could blow off in the wind, or be ripped off, but isn’t that what makes it real?
Self-Portrait as a Moss-Covered Tree, Matthew Fischer, 2019, oil on panel
MEZZO OCTOBER 2019
New York, NY
After weeks of observational painting in the woods last summer, I felt very connected to the trees
The northern Wisconsin land where I paint in the summers was wetter than normal this year and the mosquitoes became an insurmountable obstacle. It was impossible to paint outside, so my dad built a screened structure onto a trailer I was already using as a mobile working platform. I affectionately named it the “bug box.” It was a practical miracle. I could be outside, looking at trees and fields and passages of light for hours, without the aggressive attack of the wetland mosquitoes. It made my green summer paintings possible. Over the course of the summer, the bug box became a local legend, a metaphor machine and a conversation starter. The box came to symbolize a few different things for me. It was a reminder of nature’s own will to fight back, a structural echo in my paintings, and a physical metaphor for my own guarded feelings as a queer and awkward artist back home in rural America. Though the screen was a veil between me and nature, it was also my protector and paradoxically made me feel more connected to nature by making me feel safe and by giving me time to see and think. I wished I had a bug box to take with me to social situations as well.
A good friend who’s an organic farmer said mosquitoes will bring the first wave of climate
change epidemics. The bug box represents a future necessity to vigilantly protect ourselves from
nature. It also references age-old desires to control, design or make reason out of nature; the
screen, literally a micro-grid, offers a filter from which to see nature as external, and disconnected from the human biome. The paintings made inside the box explore the desire to
overlay the human mind onto nature. The pictures are interrupted by geometric shapes that
reference gravity and time and the negative space around things that control growth and entropy.
Black Pond, Matthew Fischer, 2018, oil on canvas, 59 x 66 inches
SHANDAKEN PROJECT FELLOWSHIP STATEMENT
On the ground he emerges
Feeling the wind
The grass is connected
It moves in the wind
The sound is the spirit
And mine in my head
The sun makes it warm
In the spot in the grass
The feelings of nature
Made sensory as mass
The rest of the woods
Is still wet and quite chilly
The darkness is there
But is not all that scary
God takes a place
And in church vows are made The theatrical place
Makes space safe and profound
Music it vibrates
In place of the word
He finds in chorales
That his soul does abound
But God’s hands are empty
He comes to embrace
The human is mystery
The nature is place
The Earth’s a great miracle
The mind is its seed
And wheat is the miracle
The plant and the rock
If only we see
What’s right there In our spot
The plant is the life
And offers some peace
It is like our mother
And wet like the brain
A succulent spot
The wind is the spirit
That comes as a phase
Life is a cycle
It’s all just a haze
Ourselves like the plant
We grow with the phases
Alive like the spirit
The sound travels through us
We try to be separate
The great interrupters
But one in the same
We will always remain.
Darth Vader, Maria Antelman, 2015, video loop on monitor
CURATORIAL PROJECT TEXT
480 BROOME STREET APRIL 2015
New York, NY
600 years goes by so fast.
U.N., Matthew Fischer, 2014, oil on linen, 17 x 13 inches
SOLO SHOW TEXT
JUNIOR PROJECTS OCTOBER 2014
New York, NY
Streaming live, the wifi is working well, fully connected to an outside world while inside and alone. Plugging into the stream, hearing and seeing forms and images coalesce from fragments into wholes that pop out of the river just like the ferryman in Siddhartha said they do, if you just listen long enough you will see the daily stream gel its forms of anxiety, lobbing them out at us. All the fragments and foggy memories and unconscious clicking and swiping and liking come together bridging archaic desires and memories, building upon themselves into new castles with grand staircases leading into the future and the past. Foundations of meaning are stripped, decoded and rebuilt, leaving ghost residues of forgotten but known relevance and meaning. The River of Formation is the stream, all things going in, all things coming back out. Treaties and elbows, text and butt cheeks and fallen heroes bounce about and mix in the river, popping out at random into new coherence, at once springing from and filling up the data-rich subconscious.
Corner Apartment, Matthew Fischer, 2014, oil on linen, found objects
SOLO SHOW TEXT
THE LIGHTHOUSE WORKS JULY 2014
Fishers Island, NY
THE 12TH HUMAN DESIGN COMPETITION
(To be read in an old circus barker's voice with a hint of drawn out corporate formality)
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the New Unified Realm®, welcome to the 12th
Annual Real Human Design Competition®!!!!"
"This year we ask our contestants, all operating with the most up-to-date Old California Super Neutron® operating systems and Fibercorps Systems® bodily systems, to muster all their skill, nerve and talent to design and produce an exceptionally believable and fully functional new Real Human!!!"
"As in past years, contestants will be judged over five rounds in two categories. The first category is Life Functions and Bodily Presentation which includes seamless cell regeneration, fluid/solid intake and output, and the fulfillment of Classical outward appearances. The second category is the attainment of Real Human-level Cerebral Consciousness proven through naturalistic verbal and emotional engagement with the operator in call-and-response training. In a surprise twist from the directors at CORE®, this year for the first time.............extra points will be given to the contestant whose design simulates most authentically the Real Human SOUL as defined by the SOUL Simulation Index of the 2615 Convention on Real Human Re-creation!"
(Crowd goes wild)
"As part of the SOUL the judges will especially be looking for artistic sensibilities in the design, such as, but not limited to, a self-awareness of one's three dimensional form in space as a separate being, a recognition of beauty, the phantastic and the sublime, and the ability to employ the nuances of Real Human metaphor, symbolism and narrative to
communicate inner thoughts and emotions. The competition starts right here, right now in the Fibercorps Systems® Real Space Arena!!!!!!!"
-Matthew Fischer, 2015
Bather (center) by Nikki Maloof, glove sculpture by Amanda Friedman, MacGregor Harp paintings on right and left.
CURATORIAL PROJECT TEXT
TORRANCE SHIPMAN GALLERY MARCH 2014
In Phillip K. Dick’s 1969 novel The Galactic Pot-Healer, an alien blob-shaped god called Glimmung selects a large group of disenchanted pan-galactic technical experts and transports them to his planet in order to challenge his fate. He requires the experts’ help to raise a sunken cathedral from the bottom of the local ocean. He cannot do it alone. In order to help him, they must enter his blob-shaped body and join his mind. Upon entering Glimmung they experience anxiety, fear and panic. But after the task is finished, they realize the allure of the telepathic communion that the group-mind offered. To their surprise, they find that inside Glimmung they feel no loneliness. At this point Glimmung gives the experts free will to leave the blob/body/mind. Everyone decides to stay, except an alien gastropod historian and the only Earthling in the group, the pot-healer Joe Fernwright.
Empathy might be close to telepathy. Art makes me feel its communiqué, throwing itself into the blob between us. Socially telepathic overlays emerge from the waters over time. The artists in this show include my old friends, new friends and near strangers. Together their energy and clarity of vision make me feel like I am part of something, whatever that means.