Long Division continues until the 27th of November at the Govett-Brewster.
Starkwhite presents a suite of recent paintings by Matt Henry from 19 September to 14 October. Previously shown at Goya Curtain in Tokyo, these works appropriate specific graphic motifs found in the artist’s collection of video and audio media.
Using the anachronistic technology of painting Henry extracts memories from these obsolete formats in a way that parallels the often obsessive and reductive nature of Hi-Fi.
Drawing upon his library as source material he proposes these paintings as models that inform his experience of colour field painting, and as objects and memories that challenge modernist doctrines attached to non-objective abstraction.
Matt Henry (born 1973) lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. Playing upon the contextual openness of reductive abstraction, Henry employs painting as a mimetic tool that often exploits formal intersections between the languages of painting and design. He received his MFA from 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; Wallace Arts Trust; New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade; Elevation Capital Art Collection and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
Selected solo and group exhibitions include: Long Division, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2016); Personal Recordings, Matt Henry - Madoka Kouno, Goya Curtain, Tokyo (2016); Structural Relief, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts (2014-15); High Fidelity, Starkwhite (2013); Elsewhere, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2012-13); From the series 16:9, Sydney Non Objective (2012); Vernacular Painting, Starkwhite (2011); User Friendly, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts (2011).
This opening weekend, Matt Henry is joined in his exhibition by fellow artist Emil McAvoy to discuss the ideas behind the works.
In his new exhibition Long Division, Henry who was raised in New Plymouth, responds to the architecture of the Govett-Brewster galleries. Following major renovations and the addition of the Len Lye Centre, Henry is rediscovering the spaces that were once so familiar to him.
Matt Henry: Long Division runs 27 August - 27 November, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.
For this new exhibition Henry responds to the architecture of the galleries in which his work is displayed.
Matt Henry grew up in New Plymouth and knows the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery intimately. Now, following major renovations and the addition of the Len Lye Centre, Henry is rediscovering the spaces that were once so familiar to him.
Henry’s spatial interventions take form in paintings that are installed in an unconventional manner, often embedded into the gallery walls or protruding into space.
For Long Division these minimalist interruptions have been designed and installed according to the artist’s close studies of the exhibition spaces and how we navigate them.
Excerpts from Ton screens from today until the 30th of June as the second part to Matt Henry’s New Endings.
Viewfinder, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s moving image presentation at Auckland Central Library: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Read Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s press release and more about Viewfinder here.
Matt Henry: New Endings
1 - 30 June at Viewfinder, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s moving image presentation at Auckland Central Library: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Comprising two video reels, New Endings will run in consecutive fortnight-long blocks, opening with Untitled Subtraction (1-15 June) and closing with Excerpts from Ton (16-30 June).
Produced early in his career, both these pieces share a search for beginnings and endings, an entry point into the shifting and fluid discourses about art’s relationship to language, parody, and critique.
Showing from this Wednesday ‘Untitled Subtraction’ captures Henry as he systematically paints over a text-based image on canvas. With this transformative act he erases a negative affirmation conceivably riffing upon the various end games played out in 20th Century painting. At the end of the short video we are confronted with a tabula rasa, suggestive of a beginning as much as an end point. This cyclic idea is echoed in ‘Excerpts from Ton’ which will screen from 16 June. Conceived as an incongruous creation allegory ‘Ton’ captures a domestic refrigerator and oven at the moment of their violent destruction and reconstitution.
Read Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s press release and more about Viewfinder here.
Matt Henry ~ Madoka Kouno ~ Personal Recordings
April 23rd – May 10th, 2016
Opening Saturday, April 23rd. 6-8PM
Image: Matt Henry, Dynamicron (2016), Acrylic on raw canvas, cedar stretcher, 382 x 468 mm
Goya Curtain is pleased to present Personal Recordings, an exhibition of sound and visual art featuring Madoka Kouno and Matt Henry. Sharing the physical and aural boundaries of the gallery space, Personal Recordings presents two discrete practices that in their own way deal with notions of medium, transcription, and abstraction.
Appropriating graphic motifs and colours used by various videocassettes circa 1980, Henry uses the anachronistic technology of painting to extract memories from this obsolete format. Drawing upon his own video library as source material, Henry proposes these paintings as models that preceded (and informed) his experience of colour field painting, and as objects and memories that challenge modernist doctrines attached to abstraction.
Madoka Kouno, a sound artist and improviser who has been performing since the early 2000s, presents two tracks that were recorded live at Ftarri, Tokyo, in November 2012. In this performance Kouno used tape recorders, a mixer, speakers, and digital tuners. Utilising the portable tape recorders (without cassettes) as sound making and amplifying devices, Kouno carefully manipulated and changed their positions in order to create subtle tremors and rich complex sound vibrations that radiated throughout the space.
About Matt Henry
Born in 1973, Henry lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. Playing upon the contextual openness of reductive abstraction, Henry employs painting as a mimetic tool that often exploits formal intersections between the languages of painting and design. He completed an MFA from 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; Wallace Arts Trust; New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade; Elevation Capital Art Collection and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
Matt Henry is represented in New Zealand by Starkwhite.
About Madoka Kouno
Born in Kanagawa. Kouno first became interested in epistemology and perception while studying at university. In 2003, she completed a course in "Sound / Art Expression" at Bigakko, after which she began performance focused on perception and cognition. Currently she performs using empty tape-recorders, metronomes, metal plates, etc to catch variations in interference and distance/space.
SOMA (Red/Yellow/Black), 2015
Acrylic on linen, cedar stretcher, 500 x 500 mm
Matt Henry and Timothy Chapman
Opening Wednesday 29 April, 6pm
Exhibition runs until Saturday 16 May 2015
RM presents Silian Rail, a conceptually driven painting project by Matt Henry and Timothy Chapman. Showcasing a playful rivalry, the exhibition documents a period of conversation and production, which considers the notion of painting and the materials of its production within a hierarchical and semiotic framework. Exploring surface through the structure of painting, Chapman’s works document a sculptural fabrication process. Setting out to cast a stretched canvas in woven composites, various preparations and experiments are presented as objects in their own right. Similarly Henry’s works reproduce or frame the reductive notion of painting as object and material. Executed in a perfunctory manner the chosen materials invite a conversation that is at once prosaic and poetic.
Matt Henry: Structural Relief (Te Tuhi)
Te Tuhi Project Wall, 15 November 2014 - 15 February 2015
Using painting as a departure point to explore relationships between art, architecture and design, Matt Henry has installed an arrangement of stretched white canvases on a white wall at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts. Some of the canvases have been inset into the wall itself, while others are hung conventionally on its surface. Both rely on the play of light to define the internal and external forms and call into question the presence of a painting in a room, not as an image or surface, but as something that might become part of the architecture in which it is placed.
Image: Installation view of Matt Henry's Structural Relief at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts
Images of Matt Henry's exhibition High Fidelity at Starkwhite.
16 November - 14 December 2013
Starkwhite is pleased to present High Fidelity by Matt Henry from 16 November to 14 December 2013.
In his first solo show at Starkwhite, Henry assembled a small group of paintings and sculptures reflecting his interest in art, design and consumerism. Installed in two galleries, each the mirror image of the other, the exhibition played on the notion of the doppelgänger, exploring the formal similarities and interconnectedness of art and design through the minimalist aesthetic.
Utilizing the same gallery space, Henry presents a new suite of paintings that engage with the legacy of minimalism and design. Concentrating on the picture frame as an integral element in the 'design' of his paintings, the works in High Fidelity focus on the formal and mimetic possibilities of the frame, rather than the frame as embellishment or protection.
Henry's minimalist-like paintings characteristically subvert conventions of display and construction in order to play upon references to non-objective art and minimalist product design. Willingly inviting uncertainty to the reading or perception of the work, Henry describes his practise as an "incongruous mix of the languages of 20th century abstraction, conceptualism and 21st century design."
Tracing the process of commodification and semiotic re-coding, the works play upon the contextual openness of reductive or minimal art. Exploring the origins, histories and contradictions imbedded in the minimalist idiom, Henry's investigation endeavours to decode and record the vagaries of these forms and their shifting social/political value.
Matt Henry graduated from Melbourne's RMIT University with an MFA in 2008. Recent solo shows and representation in group/thematic exhibitions include: Elsewhere, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (2012-13); From the series 16:9, Sydney Non Objective (2012); Metaphoria, St Paul Street Gallery (2012); Melbourne Art Fair (2012); Vernacular Painting, Starkwhite, (2011);User Friendly, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts (2011); ART HK11, Hong Kong (2011); Contraflow, Starkwhite (2010); ART HK10, Hong Kong (2010); Fahrenheit, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2009); Doppelgänger, Starkwhite (2009); Living Together, Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington (2007); Activating Korea, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2007); Mostly Harmless: a performance series, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2006); View, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (2004); and Bloom, High Street Project, Christchurch (2004).
Located in New Zealand on Auckland's Karangahape Road, Starkwhite presents a programme of artists' projects, solo shows, independently curated exhibitions and occasional forays into new music and other interdisciplinary practices. Starkwhite also represents artists from New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific-rim.
Please contact the gallery for further information and images.
Auckland's St Paul St launches its 2012 Curatorial Season tonight with Metaphoria, the first of a suite of seven exhibitions, a symposium and a publication. Curatorial Season "aims to be journalistic in tone, attempting to chart the local practices that create this burgeoning discipline". Curated by Amelia Harris, and including work by Matt Henry, Metaphoria runs from 24 February - 21 April, 2012.
Image: Matt Henry, Achromatic Grey (Letterbox) from the series 16:9, 2011, 618 x 100 x 69
Matt Henry's exhibition 'From the series 16:9' opens today at Sydney Non Objective. The works in the show were produced during a three-month residency at SNO in 2011.
Phillips, Bruce E. (2012, Feb 1). Painting Obsolescence [exhibition text]
The desire of innovation and consumerism is an insatiable drive that finds its justification in both market trends and the hunger for technological advancement. Our consumption of products is sold to us through the promise of attaining symbolic cultural status, inclusion or enriched lifestyle. Yet the acquisition of such intangible outcomes are always fleeting, for every season or year we witness a new product or fashion that redefines these socio-cultural codes. In this system the new and refined are celebrated and the old and redundant are shunned. This is no more apparent than in the recent developments in television design. In its present incarnation the flat screen television presents a veritable intersection between art and design and the language of minimalist painting. Hanging on a wall with the monochromatic sublime of an Ad Reinhardt and the gleam of a Donald Judd, there is no question that the minimalism of the 1960s onwards has influenced the design of these objects. However, rather than attempting to attain a refined gestalt or some sort of ideal Platonic form, the drive for this design aesthetic is to be an adornment of sophistication and technological innovation.
By re-absorbing modernist and minimalist influences from mass-produced products, Matt Henry participates in complex systems of cultural and commercial value. In this process, a distinction is made between that which is appropriated for symbolic value and that which is designed with understanding. This distinction recognises the hand-in-hand role that artists and designers have had in the development of modernism and minimalism, but also considers the shift in ideological significance due to mass production. Modernist and minimalist influences found in consumer products, more often than not, are used as a veneer in which symbolic cultural capital is invested rather than formal enquiry.
It is in this conflict of aesthetic motivation, between minimalist art and industrial design, that Henry's practice intercedes. Taking interest in various forms, from humble architectural fixtures and domestic appliance design, Henry creates hyper-real abstract paintings. His chosen forms which range from ovens, hi-fi systems, fire alarms and circuit board casing, are critically considered for their reductive integrity.
Henry transforms these familiar objects into the ideological 'purity' of hard-edge modernist abstraction using only the materials conventionally associated with painting. These paintings are not only to be regarded as autonomous objects. They also engage with space in a similar way to early minimalism. Through considered placement, Henry groups paintings to act in site-specific capacities by intervening into the given architectonic logic of a space, often exposing inherent imperfections or idiosyncrasies of the space.
The inquiry into the tainted ideologies of modernism and minimalism is now well familiar, due to the parody by post-minimalist artists of the late 1990s such as Damien Hirst and Tom Friedman. In comparison, Henry's approach is more akin to those artists whose enquiries came to see the obvious sympathy between artistic ideology and the commercial. Key influences include New Zealand artists such as Billy Apple and Julian Dashper, whose practices added greatly to the commercial and institutional impact on painting. More closely aligned to Henry in generation and approach is the work of Francis Baudevin, whose paintings 'faithfully replicate [at large-scale] abstract geometric motifs culled from industrial packaging,' primarily pharmaceutical goods.1 Akin to Baudevin's approach, Henry's work investigates the conversion of aesthetic value as it undergoes semiotic translation between art, design and consumerism. This position is empathetic 'towards the cultural product of modernity' and neutralises any attempt at idealistic mystery behind the abstract.2
The 16:9 series encapsulates many of these nuances. Since 2008, Henry has expanded the series to investigate the ability to create believable mimesis as well as unpacking the design and engineering logic of these desired consumer products. In these works great investigation into limited materials has taken place. Custom machined frame mouldings, bulletproof glass, methods of mounting canvas stretchers and various hues and pigments have been experimented with to achieve the illusion of depth and sharp geometry that are synonymous with industrial manufacturing. These investigations have revealed interesting anomalies of the technology and the material conventions of painting. Of this, the development and invention of different picture aspect ratios used in the film and television industry deserve mention. In abstract form Henry draws attention to the visual impact of these arbitrary formats within the frame of a television's native ratio. The black banding or cropping that occurs on real televisions is highlighted in crisp contrast between incandescent yellows or greens and carefully chosen dark grey. A wry gesture that associates the compositional restraint of colour and shape in the history of abstract painting and a brash technological foible that most would overlook.
Most importantly the 16:9 series, considered in its entirety, explores the notion of obsolescence both in terms of redundancy but also progress and desire. Indeed, the trend for flat screen televisions is a textbook example of consumerism. The 16:9 series charts this insatiable consumerist drive through the development of the flat screen television - from the bulky plasma monitor and home theatre system to the latest slim-line LED screen. However, as an artistic enquiry it is intentionally problematic, as it is only as relevant as Henry's ability to convincingly replicate and riff off the new technological advancements within the convention of painting. In this pursuit the artist will always be painting in the shadow of obsolescence determined by market trends and the unsustainable desire for the new.
Bruce E. Phillips
1 Stroun, Fabrice. "Francis Baudevin." Frieze Magazine. Issue 75, May 2003.
2 Nickas, Bob. Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting abstraction, p184. New York: Phaidon Press Ltd, 2009.
Atticus, Todd. (2011, Nov 1). Southside Arts Festival: Matt Henry – User Friendly [Web log]. Retrieved from http://spindlemagazine.com/2011/11/from-southside-arts-festival%E2%80%A8%E2%80%A8-matt-henry-user-friendly/
Southside Arts Festival: Matt Henry – User Friendly
The Tuhi Centre for the Arts is positioned rather inconspicuously behind an ugly collection of shops and businesses in the Pakaranga region of Manukau. From its many purposes and aims Te Tuhi is most notable for its robust and exciting exhibitions programme. A quick dive into its archive of previous exhibitions reveals a wealth of diverse and challenging art. It is a veritable diamond in the rough.
The gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of new works by Auckland-based artist Matt Henry. User Friendly is an installation of nine paintings across three gallery spaces.
Henry divides and sites his work so as to make bold interventions to the space. Playing with the conventions of exhibition display and art production, his series mimics and references modern consumable items. The unconventional positioning of the canvases further distorts their roles and the objects – at the whim of considerations such as height and juxtaposition – morph into their domestic doppelgängers before your eyes. A canvas mimicking the 16:9 ratio of a flat screen television is hung identically to its functional counterparts; ditto the long Untitled horizontal 600 x 1800 (Titanium White) as a radiator (the lack of romance in Henry’s titling gloriously enhances the effect).
But there is more than mere optical-trickery at work here. The paintings are sleek, attractive objects in their own right. Henry creates smooth surface textures through a meticulous application of acrylic paint. In doing so he references minimalist aesthetics as well as imbuing these signifiers with a resonating visual appeal.
The three boxy rooms that the exhibition spans offer a perfect opportunity for comparative and complementary groupings. In a similar manner to the methodology of artist Roni Horn (successive repetitions, alterations and arrangements), Henry has utilised the space to perform a series of “about-faces”. Through a recalibration of similar forms, he ekes out a sense of immutability in the space itself and hints at the potentiality inherent in the construct of arrangement.
Henry’s is an understated and intelligent commentary. One that is drawn as much to reasoning about the phenomenon of design as it is to art production itself. It may seems contradictory to suggest that such strong visual statements offer subtleties, but the deliberated manner of their dissemination and their collective muteness ground them.
I had an opportunity earlier today to talk to Matt about his work.
Todd Atticus: Your practice blurs the line between painting and sculpture. What arena do you see your work inhabiting?
Matt Henry: I don’t really look at my practice from a discipline area, just as the work references – or blurs – the histories of art and design. I believe this is primarily because much of my interest lies outside of the art historical, somewhere in the semiotics of certain forms and their attendant knowledge or values in a contemporary context.
TA: For me, the objects both fuse and betray any linkage between what they gesture toward (domestic consumable goods, furniture etc.) and what they are in themselves (art objects). They behave separate of art historical principles that would otherwise engulf their purpose. Do you see the gallery space itself playing a role in the experience of these objects?
MH: The gallery can perhaps be seen as a stage where the objects I elude to (the consumable item, appliance) might betray themselves (or their utility) and exist in a purely aesthetic form. The gallery asks no more of them. This makes the gallery (as well as the discipline of painting) interesting as a point about which the emphasis shifts from function toward form and language.
TA: I find the conventions of the gallery space provide an opportunity to assess under different terms. This removal from the hubris of reality suspends objects in a vacuum, allowing them to be contemplated as separate. Under this form of aesthetic scrutiny and transformation, your paintings display their real-life counterparts as foreign bodies; sleek, unassuming, yet obstinately alluring as to be almost fetishist in quality.
MH: Minimalism in design can be quite brutal. It can also be contemplative and meditative. The appeal of minimalism to the average marketing person might be to play up to notions of exclusivity or even propriety. It can be very conservative in a funny way. The form and language of modernism within the vernacular of consumer culture and within art presents a transgression of sorts.
TA: The gallery space – itself a minimalist venture – can singularly cleanse and repel. By removing all signals of authorship or individuality, the effect can seem either universal or alien.
In a way, the pieces in User Friendly have this universal quality: they are shorthand for accepted entities. How mindful are you of those other universals that you are exhibiting alongside? Plug sockets? Light switches? They seem to enter the fray under similar terms.
MH: There is a universalism in the notion – a wall is a wall is a wall – and a lot of interior design and architecture are themselves exercises in minimalism. You could argue that plugs, sockets and fittings are detritus; annoying distractions. I’ve always accepted them as part of the gallery, often playing-off of them compositionally.
Occasionally I’ve photographed work in my home. The effect of this context on the reading of an object is exaggerated, sometimes delightful. I’ve been apprehensive at times to give some work over to the gallery. Sometimes those light switches and fittings give it back.
The ‘character’ of a space is something I’m quick to exploit, and most galleries have it in abundance. I have to admit I prefer more intimate galleries with volumes that approximate domestic or office spaces.
TA: You are sharing the gallery space with another work at Te Tehi: Lisa Crowley’s The Reading Hall. It is a complimenting arrangement: Crowley’s films make enquiries to architectural character, systems of display and gently comment about its subject through the very material of the work’s construction [she captures the movements and intricacies of a 1950’s linotype machine using a 16mm film and documents the contemporary use of Russia’s Vyborg Library in a digital format].
MH: It’s an interesting pairing. They both appear to consider language and processes that are, to some extent, obsolete.
The very physical, ‘slow’ and contemplative process of my painting, as well as playing with history, is intrinsic to the creative process and to the thinking involved. Very much at odds with the speed of contemporary media.
Matt Henry: User Friendly at Te Tehi Centre for the Arts is open until 6th November 2011.
Image courtesy of the artist and Starkwhite, Auckland
This link takes you to a review of Matt Henry's User Friendly exhibition at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, which runs to 6 November 2011.
Images: Matt Henry, User Friendly, installation views, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Pakuranga. Photographs courtesy of Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts
Vernacular Painting by Matt Henry from 18 April to 14 May 2011
Utilising the domestic character of Starkwhite's first floor galleries, Henry's installation, Vernacular Painting engages with the instability of language and content common to the histories of art and design.
Sited amidst the contexts of the white cube and the domestic interior, Henry's minimalist-like paintings play upon slippages created between the pieces and the gallery's architecture. Deliberately inviting uncertainty in the reading or perception of the work, Henry describes the pieces in Vernacular Painting as an "incongruous mix of the languages of 20th century abstraction, conceptualism and 21st century design."
Henry's interest in painting traces the process of commodification and semiotic re-coding that occurs through the appropriation and use of minimalism in contemporary design. Loaded with visual puns, the work plays upon the 'contextual openness' of reductive or minimal art. Exploring the origins, histories and contradictions imbedded in certain idioms, Henry's investigation endeavours to decode and record the vagaries of these forms.