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b. 1973, USA

Matt Connors Biography

Matt Connors's paintings are fundamentally an exploration of visual hierarchies—an ongoing push and pull between foreground and background, past and present, focus and periphery. His visual language often alludes to the modernist canon in its colour schemes and compositional devices, while remaining distinctly contemporary through its self-reference.

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In 1995, Matt Connors received his BFA from Bennington College, a school known for its emphasis on formalism and whose alumni includes artists like Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Feeley, and Kenneth Noland. Connors' ongoing methods particularly echo Frankenthaler's. In both cases, thin layers of watery paint absorb into the fibres of canvas. However, Connors' paintings have a much more geometric, urban bent than Frankenthaler's ethereal work.

In First Stack (2016), for example, asymmetrical rectangles surround a perfect circle. Small dabs of paint sit opaque atop the translucent washes, simultaneously emphasising depth while reaffirming the painting's two-dimensionality. In this tension between illusion and materiality, Matt Connors' work contains both emotive power, developed through a refined sense of composition, and conceptual intrigue in its interrogation of the painting as a construction.

Much of Matt Connors' work, either obliquely or directly, references the history of painting—particularly minimalism and abstraction. A number of his paintings combine the visual language of Josef Albers with a much more expressive painting style. In Hocket (2017), Albers' famously flat exploration of plane and colour is injected with gestural brushstrokes full of energy. In both First Stack and Hocket, Connors utilises a more saturated palette than that of the painters he seems to reference. This choice appears to imbue the images with a vitality not previously present, emphasising a sense of revitalisation of these art-historical conversations. Making Albers' famous motif distinctly his own, Connors draws on the past to parse out the possibilities of a 21st-century understanding of painting.

Connors has often extended his work beyond the canvas, producing installations as well as artist books that aim to push the materiality of painting even further beyond the canvas. In his exhibition Matt Connors: Complaints III at Cherry and Martin in Los Angeles (2014), he painted strips of yellow, blue, orange and black along the vertical seams at which one wall meets another. In this work, the artist yet again maintained painting's art historical lineage; the walls are reminiscent of Jo Baer's canvases, for example, where a thin strip of colour frames an otherwise blank picture plane.

However, where Baer pushed the viewer's eye to the edge of her canvases, Connors pushed the viewer's eye outside entirely and to the edges of the room, blending the space and the painting into one. With such gestures, he stretches assumptions of what makes a painting a painting, breaking free of all but the barest material and art historical signifiers.

Connors reflects the formalist leanings of his undergraduate education, investigating and expanding the Greenbergian values of two-dimensionality, rectangularity, paint and an overall self-aware (rather than illusory) mode. In works such as Hocket, Connors seems to uphold these values. However, in his installation of painted strips for Complaints III, Connors allows his practice to enter painting in the expanded field, opening up a space beyond Greenberg's rigorous formalism while still respecting its argument.

Matt Connors received his MFA from Yale in 2006. He lives and works in New York.

Matt Connors Solo Exhibitions include:

Swap, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2021); FIGURE, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2020); stud/file, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2016); Not Straight, Herald St, London (2015); Matt Connors: Reverse Telescopes with Inflected Baffles, KARMA, New York (2013); Impressionism, MoMA PS1, New York (2012).

Matt Connors Group Exhibitions include:

Artists for New York, Hauser & Wirth, New York (2020); Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and now, Lisson Gallery, New York (2019); Call and Responses, Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York (2015); In NO Time, The Modern Institute, Glasgow (2014); Painter, Painter, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013).

Casey Carsel | Ocula | 2021

Matt Connors Featured Artworks

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Diamond Cliff by Matt Connors contemporary artwork
Matt ConnorsDiamond Cliff, 2021Acrylic and pencil on paper
24.1 x 24.1 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
Turn-er by Matt Connors contemporary artwork
Matt ConnorsTurn-er, 2021Acrylic and pencil on canvas
114.5 x 91.5 x 3 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
Fix from Memory (Green) by Matt Connors contemporary artwork
Matt ConnorsFix from Memory (Green), 2021Acrylic and pencil on canvas
215.9 x 167.6 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
Hex Folder by Matt Connors contemporary artwork
Matt ConnorsHex Folder, 2021Acrylic, oil and pencil on canvas
57.1 x 47 x 2 cm
Xavier Hufkens Contact Gallery
Bird Flying Through a Tunnel by Matt Connors contemporary artwork
Matt ConnorsBird Flying Through a Tunnel, 2019Acrylic on canvas
304.8 x 244.5 x 3.2 cm
The Modern Institute Contact Gallery
Pieta by Matt Connors contemporary artwork
Matt ConnorsPieta, 2019Acrylic and crayon on canvas
154.9 x 137.8 x 3.2 cm
The Modern Institute Contact Gallery
Stripes in Nature by Matt Connors contemporary artwork
Matt ConnorsStripes in Nature, 2019Acrylic, oil and and crayon on canvas
190.5 x 153 x 3.2 cm
The Modern Institute Contact Gallery
Repeat Clarice by Matt Connors contemporary artwork
Matt ConnorsRepeat Clarice, 2019Oil, acrylic and crayon on canvas
71.1 x 64.1 x 2.9 cm
The Modern Institute Contact Gallery

Matt Connors Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Matt Connors, Swap at Xavier Hufkens, Van Eyck, Brussels
Closed
6 March–3 April 2021 Matt Connors Swap Xavier HufkensVan Eyck
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Artists for New York at Hauser & Wirth, 548 West 22nd Street, New York
Closed
1–22 October 2020 Group Exhibition Artists for New York Hauser & Wirth548 West 22nd Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Matt Connors, FIGURE at The Modern Institute, Aird's Lane, Glasgow
Closed
16 November 2019–18 January 2020 Matt Connors FIGURE The Modern InstituteAird's Lane

Matt Connors Represented By

Matt Connors In Related Press

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Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and Now Related Press Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and Now 2 July 2019, The Brooklyn Rail

On some timely occasions, we get the true pleasure to be reminded of T.S. Eliot's 'historical sense' (from his famous 1919 essay Tradition and Individual Talent). This historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past but of its very presence, which simply implies a co-function of simultaneous existence and simultaneous...

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You Are in Good Hands with Matt Connors Related Press You Are in Good Hands with Matt Connors 11 November 2017, Hyperallergic

During an online search for Lawrence Durrell's writing I found this passage in a review, "Durrell's ideal of the novel is one of haute cuisine with great quantities of pepper and garlic" (Patrick Parrinder, London Review of Books, June 1985) and thought it was a good description of a lot of painting right now. Forever Now, the Museum...

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The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World Related Press The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World 16 March 2015, Frieze

Featuring multiple works by 17 artists in different media – from soap and wax to ink and synthetic polymer, and good old fashioned oil on canvas – The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, curated by Laura Hoptman, staked its premise not upon the varied matter of materials, but the fungibility of temporal allusion. Purporting...

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Matt Connors at Canada Related Press Matt Connors at Canada 1 September 2014, Art in America

A freestanding, 14-foot-tall, canary yellow wall greeted visitors to Matt Connors's third solo show, Machines, at Canada. Past the expanse of yellow, you met an equally imposing blue wall standing sentinel to the gallery's atriumlike inner room, which showcased paintings, a work on paper and one mixed-medium wall piece (all 2014).

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Matt Connors In Video & Audio

Matt Connors, Swap Related Video & Audio Matt Connors, Swap 9 March 2021, Xavier Hufkens

In concurrence with the exhibition Swap, on view from 6 March to 3 April 2021 at Xavier Hufkens, Brussels. Filmed and edited by Jason Evans.

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Studio Talk with Matt Connors and Matt Wolf Related Video & Audio Studio Talk with Matt Connors and Matt Wolf 15 April 2013, Walker Art Center

What does a director of documentaries learn from a painter, and vice versa? Does it influence how they think about or make their own work? Matt Wolf, one of Filmmaker Magazine's '25 New Faces of Independent Film,' interviews his friend Matt Connors, one of the artists featured in the exhibition Painter Painter.

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