People will tell you it doesn’t matter whether something is abstract or representational any more. Matthew F Fisher paints the yearning for what each of these modes can provide. At the risk of vapid wordplay, one could say that Fisher’s paintings are abstractions of representation.
They coax into place idealized and yet outlandish mental images of familiar yet exotic objects (is the sun an object?), all within an uncannily palpable space. Heir to a broad but distinct cross-section of artistic precedent, Fisher rolls together early American modernism, the Chicago imagists, the devotion of self-taught artists, and some of the more obstreperous voices from the ranks of abstract expressionism and color field. All of these echo in Fisher’s paradoxically somber and playful vision that, in true modernist form, crystalizes into blunt yet extravagantly crafted objects. Figurative painting concerns itself with narrative. Fisher instead paints an endlessly prolonged moment; swelling tides, spreading petals, and mortal flesh pauses forever in his compositions. The ancient future instant that Fisher paints constitutes an internal contradiction that is intolerable for the administrative mind. Herein lie his politics, and it is a politics of ecstasy. The ever-fleeting reconciliation of design and volume, of craft and magic, fuses the hushed and suspended narrative time with the viewer’s time of encounter, thus bringing these supposedly realist paintings into contact with high modernist actuality. Fisher achieves abstract time.
Matthew F Fisher (b. 1976, Boston) recent solo exhibitions include Strange Light, Over Under Room, Brooklyn, NY (2018), Into the Blue, Johansson Projects, Oakland, CA (2018) and Observable Universe, Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York, NY (2017). Group shows include the two artist exhibition Night Waves, with Casey Cook, at SHRINE, New York, NY (2018) and Pro Forma: Context and Meaning in Abstraction, curated by Dr Vittorio Colaizzi, Work Release, Norfolk, VA (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).