The Hole is proud to present the first New York solo exhibition by Minneapolis-based artist Mathew Zefeldt. Covering the walls and floor of our gallery 3 space with a giant oil on panel mural, Zefeldt will then hang eight new paintings in the installation. “Customizable Realities” is a completely immersive post-analog painting installation and must be experienced first-hand.
As the artist had to meticulously plan this out months ago, we know that exactly 2104 square feet of painting was generated for this installation. Executed with black and greyscale oil paint on panel, this walk-in mural consists sixteen repeated screen shot images from the video game Grand Theft Auto V (2013). The LA car-scape with houses in the hills and a palm-tree lined horizon surrounds you, the wide streets dotted with cars take you into the world of the video game; a layering of imperfect squares of paint evokes the sort of glitteringly bright LA light and also the light from behind screen of the video game.
The eight paintings hung in the installation are a focus of the artist’s thinking about the subject matter. Cop cars on fire, Porsches on Mulholland drive, rocks, deer, a crashed car, even a fighter jet approaching a bridge are all images generated by the artist playing GTA as an avatar of himself, creating evocative images in this sandbox game, looking for poetic moments instead of achieving car-theft goals.
Each painting depicts repeated images like a tiled desktop, from two to nine to thirty in some panels; painted over and over again by hand, matching almost perfectly with its twins. Such repetition is not natural to analog life, rather it is the realm of cut and pasteable endlessly iterable images in the digital realm. Why bother? It must be maddening to execute and “meditative” seems doubtful given the subject matter.
I guess that is the heart of the WHY in this show: for me, recreating and repeating images only a computer could make is an homage of sorts paying respect to the new image-vistas technology opens up. However here perhaps there is a bit more criticism, Zefeldt sees these as “virtual plein-aire paintings” from an escapist fantasy world. Artists are always fascinated with painting the world around them; a lot of young people today spend the majority of their lives in constructed virtual worlds around them. Consequence-free killing and death, endless respawn; take selfies, beat hookers, Thelma and Louise it off a cliff….
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 been exhibited at Joshua Liner Gallery, NY; Big Pictures, Los Angeles; Celaya Brothers, Mexico City; and MOHS Exhibit, Copenhagen.