Abend Gallery is excited to announce the opening of Matthew Saba’s upcoming solo exhibition, Songs from the Nail House.
Saba works in combinations of oil, wax, graphite and charcoal and paints real-life objects, which, as he puts it, lack contrivance. Harsh combinations of degraded forms and strict geometric drawing transpire on his canvases: clean and rough, form and formless, all go hand-in-hand in his compositions.
“In my painting, I try to elevate ordinary objects to heavenly levels of majesty,” said Saba of the mystical edginess of his approach. When he places these simple objects in spiraling arrangements and paints them with a lightness that is at once revealing and obscuring, it makes the viewer reconsider one’s own perception of ordinary. “It is in a way the personification of time, in my eyes,” says Saba.
The artist shared that the intriguing title of this exhibition is a reference to those who stubbornly fight against the tide of change and time. “I applaud these types because I am one, but secretly wonder if it’s at the heart of my frustration.” In China, a nail house is a home whose resident refuses to leave in order to make way for new construction. Builders must construct around it in elaborate ways, often leaving behind an eyesore so amazing that it's almost sculptural.
A Colorado native, Saba is primarily self-taught. “The disadvantage to this,” he said, “is that you start out stumbling around in the dark for some time until you figure out how to build a torch; all progress rests solely on your own shoulders. The advantage, however, is that you’re free to chase down whatever interests you. I love American photography, for example, and musical structure, advertising, film, Hellenistic sculpture, and run-down houses—anything that exudes the feeling of time and narrative.”
Saba’s fine art career has been influenced by so many aspects of his life, from graphic design work in video games to video production, storyboarding, product packaging design, teaching and even bartending. Ultimately, he’s come to accept his non-traditional route into the arts as part of the new generation’s way of consuming information. “We’ve had the benefit of growing up with the Internet as a learning and exploring tool,” he said. “At my fingertips is every major work of art. I can download Solomon J Solomon’s The Practice of Oil Painting and Drawing for free, from Google books. I can display my work on a platform equal to every other artist in history. As a neophyte, it’s a great time to be alive.”