Soft­en­ing Boxes
Instal­la­tion view


Soft­en­ing Boxes
Instal­la­tion view


Matthew Wat­son
An invi­ta­tion to paint a gallerist’s liv­ing room inside a Jean Nou­vel build­ing at 11th Avenue, New York, May 26 2015, 2015
Oil on cop­per (unframed)
20 x 19 inches
51 x 48 cm


Matthew Wat­son
An invi­ta­tion to paint Jacob and Brontë, two mixed breed dogs in an artist’s loft on Ren­wick Street, New York, May 27 2013, 2015
Oil on cop­per
19 x 16 inches (unframed)
48 x 41 cm


Matthew Wat­son
An invi­ta­tion to paint a Flavio Poli glass vase and paper­weight in an artist’s apart­ment on 131st Street, New York, June 29 2015. Object pro­duced in Murano, an island in Venice, Italy, 2015
Oil on cop­per
12 x 14 inches (unframed)
30.5 x 35.5 cm


Soft­en­ing Boxes
Instal­la­tion view


Matthew Wat­son
A com­mis­sion to paint the Fuller Fam­ily in their Bev­erly Hills home, Los Ange­les, June 4 2014, 2015
Oil on cop­per
20 x 24 inches (unframed)
51 x 61 cm


Matthew Wat­son
A paint­ing of Akila, a pure­bred basenji, with an Eames fold­ing screen in a writer’s loft on 36th Street, New York, Sep­tem­ber 8 2014, intro­duced by a mutual friend and artist, 2015
Oil on cop­per
14.5 x 17 inches (unframed)
37 x 43 cm


Soft­en­ing Boxes
Instal­la­tion view


Matthew Wat­son
An invi­ta­tion to paint a Beranek Fam­ily glass paper­weight in an artist’s apart­ment on 131st Street, New York, June 29 2015. Object pro­duced at the Beranek Fac­tory in the Czech Repub­lic, 2015
Oil on cop­per
12 x 14 inches (unframed)
30.5 x 35.5 cm

SEPT 12 - OCT 25, 2015

MATTHEW WATSON:
SOFTENING BOXES

Joe Shef­tel Gallery is pleased to present Soft­en­ing Boxes, Matthew Watson’s sec­ond solo exhi­bi­tion with the gallery. An open­ing recep­tion will be held on Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 12, from 6– 8pm. The exhi­bi­tion will be on view through Octo­ber 25, 2015.

The house can be read as a sen­so­rium. We fur­nish our rooms with lay­ers of soft mate­r­ial; includ­ing cur­tains, car­pets, paint­ings, bed­ding, cloth­ing, and cush­ions. The soft­ness of human skin is mir­rored through the skins of the soft­en­ing boxes we con­struct.


Watson’s recent paint­ings mark a shift away from depict­ing the sub­jects of the paint­ing directly. Rep­re­sented in the exhi­bi­tion are two artists, a col­lec­tor, a dealer, and a critic, yet what is depicted in the paint­ings are their pets, fur­nish­ings, objects, walls, floor­ing, books, and child. The bor­der between sub­ject and object is soft­ened, a step removed from the human­is­tic pathos often wrapped up in por­trai­ture.


This is against the myth of Nar­cis­sus who gazed into his own mir­ror image as the pri­mal form of self-relation. Our rela­tion to the world is not rooted in the inter­nal “I”, but instead as the fluid space between sub­ject and envi­ron­ment. Here, the human being pro­ceeds from the social to the indi­vid­ual and not the other way around. It is the social imago that sit­u­ates our expe­ri­ence of being in the world, where things are not out­side of us in some mea­sur­able exter­nal space. The child psy­chol­o­gist Don­ald Win­ni­cott pro­vides an anti­dote to the mirror-stage when he speaks of “tran­si­tional” objects, which are the first things a child sep­a­rates from exter­nal real­ity and appro­pri­ates into an ambiva­lent “zone of expe­ri­ence which is between the thumb and the teddy bear, between oral eroti­cism and the real object rela­tion.”


Watson’s con­cern with the social and eco­nomic rela­tion­ships that con­sti­tute each of his paint­ings extends to the accu­mu­la­tion of objects that are depicted in each image. Due to the absence of the per­son with whom the exchange is being con­ducted, the rela­tions that bind objects, places, and peo­ple are brought to the fore. Louis Althusser would term this the “real abstract,” which he defined as “real rela­tions (as rela­tions they are nec­es­sar­ily abstract) between ‘men’ and their ‘things’, or rather, to give the term its stronger sense, between ‘things’ and their ‘men.’ He aptly claimed that one could not depict social rela­tions in an image pos­i­tively, but it is pos­si­ble to depict the deter­mi­nate absence that gov­erns them, as traces between objects and humans.


For Wat­son, the tech­ni­cal processes per­formed by an artist are neces­si­tated by the pro­duced object itself, and not the other way around, which is a refu­ta­tion of the pure sub­jec­tiv­ity of cre­ation. The social and eco­nomic rela­tions which accom­pany the object are sen­si­ble, but only in the space between an object, it’s pro­ducer, and it’s beholder. Wat­son inserts him­self into this fluid chain of rela­tions, fre­quently work­ing on com­mis­sion or by invi­ta­tion to start a paint­ing, in turn pro­duc­ing objects that relay back into the very flows that led to their con­struc­tion.

Matthew Wat­son (b. 1981) lives and works in Brook­lyn. He received his MFA from Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity and has pre­sented two solo exhi­bi­tions at Joe Shef­tel Gallery. Group exhi­bi­tions include shows at Metro Pic­tures, New York, NY, Oak­land Uni­ver­sity Art Gallery, Rochester, MI and Shit and Die, orga­nized by Mau­r­izio Cat­te­lan in Turin, Italy, among oth­ers. This fall Watson’s work will be included in the Kyiv Bien­nale in Kyiv, Ukraine.

For press inquiries and images, please con­tact the gallery at mail@joesheftelgallery.com.