Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Matthew Monteith, Mirrors @ Morgan Lehman The Study Project Space

Having known Monteith’s work for some time, I think it is fair to say that some real control issues are constantly at play in his work. Visually he makes meticulously perfect images, which are rendered with an insane attention to detail. As clean and perfect as his work is, it’s never overly pretty and always has a keen sense of taste, but at times looking at it is like watching a small animal fall asleep as it’s being put to death. 

The all-consuming control of Monteith’s images isn’t always helped by his working through very specific series, in which he bleeds every inch of visual life out of his subject matter. Yet as dreadfully dull as this makes his work sound it has often come together to great effect, as with his bizarrely fetishized photographs of car interiors where the leather upholstery and seat belts became downright pornographic. 

Even when he is working through the visual possibilities of a limiting subject matter that leads to a repetitive dead end, there is always a picture or two from the series that justify Monteith’s visual obsessions. When his work really starts to sing is when he takes on a wider swath of the world. In his recent work from Italy, the meticulousness turns the chaos of the world into slow, quiet visual encapsulations that make everything more compelling and poetic. 

But as is the case is with Mirrors, when Monteith is left alone in a small space and then edited into a handful of images, occasionally his subtle, well-executed pictures end up feeling a tad dull rather than the work of an artist trying very hard to make his own wonderful, personal, meticulous world.

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Morgan Lehman The Study Project Space (535 W 22nd St. 6th Fl., Btw. 10th & 11th Aves.)


Mike Varley said...

I like these. The second one in particular really strikes me. I'll have to check out more of his work.

Carl Gunhouse said...

cool, I like his work as well

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