Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 18:03
Matthew Neil Gehring
“Untitled,” 2012, by Matthew Neil Gehring is part of the “Brilliant Corners” exhibition, on display at the Dishman Art Museum April 2-May 2.
The colors of Matthew Neil Gehring’s paintings flow with the rhythms of a jazz piano, which leads the viewer to meditate on the power of the work.
The Dishman Art Museum will host “Brilliant Corners,” the first solo exhibition by the New York artist, April 2 through May 2. Gehring will give a gallery talk April 5 at 6 p.m., which will be followed by a free reception.
The title of the show is taken from an album by jazz pianist Thelonious Monk.
“(It) is pretty cool, because the sounds of jazz and the way that it, in itself, intersects the planes of sound really coalesces beautifully with the way that Matthew’s work uses intersecting planes of color,” Megan Young, Dishman director, said. “His work has this really beautiful rhythmic cadence to it that is quite ingenious, yet the colors he uses are very much chromatic. They are very harsh in some ways, but at the same time, the way that he has blended them together makes them not only balance out, but makes them become meditative — a lot like the way that jazz can seem disharmonious on the surface, yet when you look closer and really listen to it, the more meditative and encompassing it becomes. That’s how Mathew’s work really is.
“At first glance, you think, ‘Why all this yellow and puce green?’ But then, all of a sudden, you look at it and realize that it really couldn’t be any other color. It’s just perfect for what it is.”
Gehring is a painter and sculptor, but the exhibition will focus only on his paintings.
“His work is really about an intersection of geometry and the personal more than anything else,” Young said. “Matthew’s work is largely, if not completely, abstract, and on first glance it does seem to be very minimal. The more you look at it, however, the more you definitely see the hand of the artist and see how what he is creating has personal and very transformational resonances.”
Young said that Gehring’s work echoes that of Mark Rothko, Peter Halley and many of the abstract expressionists, while also favoring the work of the minimalist sculptors.
“He is just this really great combination of both,” she said.
Gehring, in a statement on his website, writes that abstract art asks us to slow down perception, and become contemplative and openly curious in a world that increasingly asks the opposite.
“My paintings, drawings and sculptures are borne of an immersive studio practice, in which I am drawn to the intersection of form and formlessness,” he states. “Color plays a central role in this pursuit; its resonance and energy are a guide. Although there are colors and forms to which I am partial, I avoid preconceptions of final form or composition in favor of engaging in and with the moment. In this way, beginnings and endings overlap. I believe in gradual progression, things that fold and unfold with duration, with focus, and balance.”
Gehring is the chair of the art department at SUNY Suffolk Junior College, and earned his MFA at the University of Delaware in 2001. He has taught at Washington State University, in New York City, and he has shown his work extensively.
Young said that she has known Gehring for a number of years and drew on their past work history and friendship to persuade him to show his work at the Dishman.
“I started talking to him with no plan in mind until I saw his work,” she said. “Then I just knew that we had to do this. It’s been a great working relationship with him so far.
“He is an amazing artist — incredibly talented, incredibly passionate about what he does, and very well-read. He can support all of his work theoretically, as well as formally, which is really nice to see in a young artist. It is great that he is bringing that experience to our students here.”
Young said that Gehring is definitely an up-and-coming artist in the abstract art world, and the fact that the Dishman is the place he has chosen for his first solo museum show is exciting.
“That says a lot about the amount of respect that he has for the museum and us here at Lamar, as well as the amount of respect that we have for him by giving him this opportunity,” she said. “I think it is great that he is being so generous with his time.
“He is coming down for three days, and while he is here he is going to meet with our art students, do studio visits, and really open himself up to the entire experience — just sort of immersing himself in Lamar for a few days.”
The Dishman Art Museum is located at 1030 E. Lavaca on the Lamar University campus. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For information, call 880-8959 or visit www.lamar.edu/dishman.