For Matt Magee, art is a form of documentation or excavation, and the artist defines it as a continued exploration of resonant themes which bridge the boundaries between art and life. John Molloy Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of the artist's recent work, showcasing a wide array of both mediums as well as approaches that span the last two years. In many ways the work presents a method of record keeping, and is an ongoing process. Through the physical process of mark-making, repetition, and a meditative state of mind, Magee investigates various information systems; especially oral or written language, visual signs, and their cultural dissemination.
Each of the twenty works in the exhibition is rooted in the rituals of everyday life, whether collective or private, and continue the artist's ongoing fascination with systems of information and classification. Their logical functions are de- contextualized into basic shapes and visual forms, and presented as puzzles of logical reasoning. Some of the major themes in Magee's body of work include form versus function, sequencing, and repetition. The works address the systems that exist in our own lives as well as connections between cause and effect. Magee traverses sculpture, painting, found object, collage, and installation, with playful variation in terms of medium. In scale, the works are intimately approachable, and treatable through their presentation as user guides to internal processes, or manuals of operation if such existed in daily life.
Magee grew up trekking and hiking throughout the desert Southwest with his geologist father. Since the 1980s the artist has utilized aluminum cans and plastic detergent bottles in his work, and a lot of these materials now come as donations from neighbors and friends. In Aluminum Circuit 4, Magee presents a visual field composed of small, cut pieces of aluminum sourced from cans and arranged into a maze of tight rows and columns, reminiscent of the formal qualities of printed text. In Accession, bits of plastic are arranged in the manner of a mounted specimen of scientific study and display. The inevitable variations in size and shape draw the eye to both intentional as well as accidental patterns, variations, and sequences. Magee sees his work as a continuous examination, rooted in exploration of abstract thought, tied to both trends in art history as well as current events. The work focuses on society's collective obsessions, such as the current development of new language systems via text message abbreviation. In Eye Thought Form, an isolated, stark form of a radiating sun sourced from Hindu symbolism becomes a resonant, omnipresent form reminiscent of both the emotive as well as oppressive simplification of emoji symbols.
In the three years since Magee's last exhibition at John Molloy Gallery the artist has won the prestigious Arlene and Mort Scult Award from the Phoenix Art Museum and completed a residency at Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In March/April 2019, a monograph of his works spanning the years 2012-2018 is being published by Radius Books, Santa Fe. Magee has also exhibited widely, including a new mural installation as well as solo exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum.
Magee (b. 1961) works at Cattle Track Arts Compound in Phoenix, Arizona and has a long and varied exhibition history, as well as numerous works in both private and public art collections. His works are part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), the University of New Mexico Art Museum (Albuquerque, NM), and the Cleveland Clinic Art Program (Cleveland, OH), among others.