Matt Henry (born 1973) lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand. He completed his MFA at Melbourne’s RMIT University in 2008 and his work is held in public and private collections including the Chartwell Collection, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki; The Wallace Arts Trust; New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
Selected solo and group exhibitions include: Long Division, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth (2016); Analogues, Starkwhite, Auckland (2016-17); Personal Recordings, Goya Curtain, Tokyo (2016); Structural Relief, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland (2014-15); High Fidelity, Starkwhite, Auckland (2013); Elsewhere, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2012-13); From the series 16:9, Sydney Non Objective (2012); Vernacular Painting, Starkwhite, Auckland (2011) and User Friendly, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland (2011).
Matt Henry’s practice employs painting, installation, and sculpture to re-imagine modernist doctrines, framing these concerns within the rhetoric of art and capitalism. Henry’s minimalist-like paintings, objects, and spaces characteristically appropriate forms and logic from the architecture around them, with his approach to painting operating as a go-between; a meta-language with which to contemplate processes of commodification and often as allegories to broader political and social concerns.
With his 16:9 series he explored the potential of painting as a mimetic tool, re-imagining non-objective abstraction as banal simulacrum in the form of wall mounted plasma televisions. Exploiting the obvious formal intersection between the ‘monochrome’ and ‘off-line’ TV monitor, the incongruous comparison highlighted the disparate values and conflicting narratives of each.
In developing Long Division, Henry focused on the legacies of object and institution, considering both the mimetic potential of the monochrome, and the museum as an artwork in itself. Responding to the recent alterations made to the lower galleries of the Govett-Brewster (and Billy Apple’s altered staircase), Henry re-negotiated these spaces, blurring the line between gallery fixture and object with a suite of unconventionally installed paintings.
Engaging wider cultural, and economic issues, Henry’s series Double Grammar Zone appropriates the visual grammar of real estate signage and transposes these to canvas. Drawing upon these bold advertising graphics the works consider the legacies of modernism and their connections to the operations and rhetoric of capitalism. Conflating painting as a conceptual object and asset, Double Grammer Zone foregrounds painting as a speculative container for both meaning and capital.
McAvoy, E. (2016). Voodoo Ray vs. Zombie Modernism. Matt Henry: Long Division [exhibition catalogue]. New Plymouth: Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.
Hurrell, John. (2016, Nov 21). Matt Henry’s Govett Installation: http://www.eyecontactsite.com/2016/11/matt-henrys-govett-installation
Phillips, Bruce E. (2012, Feb 1). Painting Obsolescence [catalogue text] From the Series 16:9, Sydney Non Objective, 2012.
Hurrell, John. (2014, Dec 22). Matt Henry in Te Tuhi: http://www.eyecontactsite.com/2014/12/matt-henry-in-te-tuhi-ii