Restraint&Limitation Exhibition at Mizzou

I have curated an exhibition at the George Caleb Bingham Gallery at the University of Missouri called Restraint&Limitation. This show features the work of Anna Buckner, Sharon Butler, and Gianna Commito, along with some people with connections to Columbia, Missouri – Hali Oberdiek, Jessica Thornton, Elise Rugolo, Lauren Steffens, and Jennifer Ann Wiggs.

Lauren Steffens’s floor piece, Rugolo’s encaustic work, and Gianna Commito’s sharp-edged abstraction in the exhibition.

It is a spare, economically arranged show. It’s openness grew out of my musings on abstraction of all sorts. I have long felt that bigger is not really better when it comes to abstraction, and I set out to bring together just a few examples of works that do this. Here is my curatorial statement for the show (a text/painting pair) with a number of shots of the installation interspersed. There will be a catalog of this exhibition available soon.

Detail shot of Ballou’s Curator’s Statement.

Curator’s Statement for Restraint and Limitation

Contemporary abstraction is a huge, multifaceted project.  From Katharina Grosse, Julie Mehretu, or El Anatsui to Cordy Ryman, Odili Donald Odita, or Amy Sillman, the range of potential and diversity of referent available to artists is obvious.

There are no clear boundaries, no distinct definitions that provide a unified perspective on the practice of abstract painting. That contemporary abstraction utilizes the history, physical interactions, and conceptual structure of painting is axiomatic. Yet to suggest that it is limited to the realm of painting is a dramatic misunderstanding.

Detail of Anna Buckner’s Dutch Still Life.

The old discourse that endlessly returns to the interplay between abstraction and representation has lost any potency to report on what is actually happening in much of contemporary abstraction. With this exhibition, I hope to present a sliver-like view into the modes of abstraction that intersect with painting as a form and which, in unique ways, demonstrate the limitations of depiction and representation to clarify the kinds of experiences that abstraction affords us. I also seek to show how smaller works may defy the conceit that abstraction is most powerful in its more monumental expressions.

Commito and Buckner works hanging in the show.

A side view of Butler’s four goodmorningdrawings and their presentation.

The three primary artists here are women from different stages of their careers. They show commitment to the aesthetics and procedures inherent in painting practice today, yet bring diverse pressures to the form. Buckner – a newly minted MFA – pieces scraps of fabric into small, taut grid fields. Butler – with decades of art making and writing behind her – brings us small digital drawings created on her iPhone. Commito – a mid-career educator and artist with broad impact – focuses on sharp geometries and wonderful chromatic synergies. Their influences – ranging from post-paint materiality to provisionality to traditional hard-edged painting – form an invigorating view into a restrained yet evocative corner of artmaking.

 

Detail of an Elise Rugolo work.

Grouping of Wiggs pieces, with Commito off to the right.

Post Script ~

I was particularly excited to have Butler in this exhibition – ten years ago we participated in an online “shared critique” event that took place on the now defunct Thinking About Art blog. I was writing about the work of someone else, but Butler was assigned to write about one of my paintings. I thought her response sharp, knowledgeable, and strong. Though she did seem to dismiss that work, I was pleased to have her voice address my art making, and I have followed her closely ever since. Her art making, writing, and blogging – especially with the influential site Two Coats of Paint – are important. I’m really glad to have be a part of this.

Another view of the installation of Butler’s works.

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EVOKE at Imago Gallery and Cultural Center

I’ve had the great pleasure to curate a little exhibition currently on view at Imago Gallery and Cultural Center, a space that I’ve been consulting for and have really enjoyed working with over the last year and a half or so. On Tuesday, September 1st, the gallery will host a reception for the show.

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I hope you can join us for this event. The works I’ve selected were created by a few young artists that really highlight the diversity of perspective that is present in our community. All three of these individuals were or are students at the University of Missouri where I have taught since 2007.

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Detail of a work by Sumire Taniai.

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Detail of a painting by Kelsey Westhoff.

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Detail of a drawing by Simon Tatum.

I chose these artists not only for the ways their work stirs up interesting moods and thoughts, but also because they represent the different places, directions, and sources that artists use. Taniai is Japanese-American, a strong woman who uses her paintings and drawing to delve into the complex relationships between fathers and daughters. Tatum uses his Cayman Island heritage to explore how colonialism and sublimated history may be brought to the surface in singular, distinctive ways. Westhoff’s paintings deploy the aesthetics of apps and filters familiar to anyone who uses a smartphone, and in them she treads the line between affectation and sincerity. All in all these young artists show the vigor of painting and drawing in the 21st century, providing viewers with avenues that illuminate history, identity, relationships, and meaning.

 

In Three Moving Parts at The Evanston Art Center

I have an exhibition that opens Sunday, September 29th at The Evanston Art Center. The show, titled In Three Moving Parts, is a three-person exhibition featuring nine of my own pieces alongside the works of Norbert Marszalek and Timothy P. Vermeulen.

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I traveled to Evanston this week to help install the show. It was a very fast trip – I was only in town for about 12 hours – but it is always a joy to travel those streets. My wife and I spent quite a few years in Chicago and Evanston, and those cities are close to our hearts. If you’re from the Chicagoland area, please consider coming up for the show. The opening is Sunday, September 29th from 1 – 4. Below are a few gray scale shots of the show during our installation. To see it in all its glorious surface density and color, make your way there!

Click the images for a larger view.

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I’ll be leading a workshop at the close of the show, on either November 9 or November 10. Stay tuned for information about that!

Also, I’d love to know what you think of the show – if you go, please leave comment here.

The Range Book

My new book, Range: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints ~ 2000-2012, is now available for purchase!

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Back at the end of 2012 I had a solo exhibition at William Woods University. You can read about it and see some images from the reception here. It was a fantastic experience, and I am grateful to Jane Mudd and Jennifer George-Sain for inviting me to present my work there. It really was a resounding success.

I coordinated with William Woods to create a catalog of the exhibition that would present all of the work that was on display, as well as numerous additional artworks that couldn’t be included in the show but which have bearing on the overarching themes and formal ideas with which I was working.  On top of the dozens of images it contains, the book features a series of short texts by me, as well as an introductory piece by the William Woods Gallery Coordinator Jennifer George-Sain. My mini-essays are designed to introduce the different shifts in my production and explain how the different series of work can be understood together. The title of the show, Range, really says it all; there has always been a broad range in my approach to artmaking. In spite of this, all of the pieces contain important threads that tie them together, and this book allows me to briefly introduce those connections and celebrate well over a decade of vibrant, productive time.

This full color book is 192 pages long and features many detail images that highlight special passages in certain artworks. It’s a pretty nice book.

Now here’s the special deal: I know the book is expensive. When you click over to the bookstore from the link below you’ll see just how expensive. But I am going to offer a hand-made, original mandala to everyone who provides proof of purchase. Let me say that again: for the price you pay you don’t just get the book, you get an original work of art as well.

You may be asking just what sort of artwork are we talking about? The pieces will be unframed works on paper featuring a mandala. When you send me your proof of purchase (the receipt that comes with the order or a picture of you holding your copy of the book, etc), I’ll provide you with some examples of what pieces are available and you can choose your own work. Each piece will be made on a piece of high quality fine art paper that is approximately 9 by 9 inches square (give or take a bit). Obviously since these are mandalas the works will be circular but the paper itself will be square. Each piece will be made in one or more of the following media: acrylic, oil, chalk pastel, oil pastel, colored pencil, graphite, and gouache. If you’d like to see a few examples of the type of works I’m describing, click here, here, and here.

If you’re interested, click the image below to see the book purchase page:

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If you make a purchase, feel free to email me at balloum (at) missouri (dot) edu to find out how to get your artwork.

Transient Geometries at Antelope Valley College

Quintessence #10, multiple monotype and woodblock prints, with acrylic, graphite and gouache on paper, 2009. Click to enlarge.

I’ve been included in a small group show at Antelope Valley College, which was organized and curated by AVC Professor Christine Mugnolo. I’m honored and excited by my fellow exhibitors: J. Jordan Bruns, David Eddington, and Lisa C. Soto. Click here for the AVC Gallery page describing the show!

Full disclosure: I went to grad school with Christine and she was the subject of one of the shows I worked with Gillock Gallery to organize back in 2006. I wrote an essay about Christine’s drawings and Gillock published a small catalog for the exhibition containing the text and a selection of her work. I’m really proud of that entire project and hope you’ll take a look here.

Here’s one of the drawings from the show – Self Portrait on Olive Ground, Pastel on toned paper, 24 by 18 inches. Click to enlarge.

The Larry Show Postcards!!!

So the upcoming “Larry” show, curated by the awesome Sloane Snure Paullus, has postcards that solicit drawing upon said postcard (to be exhibited alongside the work of 40+ artists [including me and some of my best students] at the George Caleb Bingham Gallery at the University of Missouri this summer)… Below are some of my very own “The Larry Show” postcard drawings. Enjoy, and click for larger versions :)

And here’s the verso, giving details about the show… I hope you can make it. There’ll be a whole wall of visitor-submitted card drawings (including a few more of my own), so be sure to see the show!


Craft Studio Gallery Show, Presenting Context

I’ve got an installation up at the Craft Studio Gallery of the University of Missouri in Columbia.

I proposed the show and brought in the additional artists and their works. See below for more shots of the installations and to read our group statement. Be sure to click on each artist’s name to see more of their excellent work.

The Reception will take place February 19 at 4pm. Hope you can make it. Check back here soon for some details from the installed contexts.

Work and Installation of Context by Nathan Sullivan.

Work and Installation of Context by Derek Frankhouser.

Work and Installation of Context by Sloane Snure Paullus.

Work and Installation of Context by Catherine Armbrust.

Work and Installation of Context by Marcus Miers.

Presenting Context Group Statement

Artworks are almost always presented to viewers far removed from the circumstances of their creation. The inspirations, research, sources, methods, and background information that form the basis for all artworks are usually unavailable to the audience. This amounts to a veil of mystery surrounding the finished work, masking and focusing it. Artworks appear to have simply sprung fully formed into the world, though we know this to be false. This exhibition proposes to change that – at least in some small way – by displaying singular artworks in tandem with the ephemera that lead to their creation. Alongside completed works, artists will show some background to the art: inspiring data, evocative objects, images historical and pop cultural, as well as the more traditional sketches showing trial and error. Taken together, these artifacts will serve to illuminate the experiences artists go through to process their ideas and actions into finalized pieces of art.

Exhibiting Artists

Visiting Assistant Professors Matthew Ballou and Nathan Sullivan
MU Graduate students Catherine Armbrust and Sloane Snure Paullus
MU Undergraduate students Derek Frankhouser and Marcus Miers

“Strive” – An Exhibition of Pastel Work

My show, Strive, opens on November 2, 2009, at Bellevue College Gallery in Bellevue, Washington.

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Here are a few links to some of the work that will be in the show:

The Impossible Geometries of Contemplation

Heavy

Current Events

Revealer (Forced #1)

And here is my statement about the works, written for the show:

Strive – Pastel Works by Matthew Ballou

The group of works I present here – each in the tondo format and created in many layers of pastel – is a small contemplation on the gesture or shape of struggle, concern, and distress.

I have created dense surfaces and chromatic environments meant to play in the distance between implied narrative and votive stillness. Though I take cues from the ways bodies move through and react to stress or pain, these are not pictures of actual pain, nor are they meant to address the true physical reality of hurting. They are instead symbolic stylizations of the aches we feel, inspired by an iconography of bodily form and posture. They imagine the machinations we get up to when in states of deep anxiety, whether in our banal daily lives or amid the worrisome questions of intellectual engagement. They are about a kind of conceptual discomfiture distilled through the image of the body.

My desire for each work is two-fold. First, I aim for the artworks to stimulate reflection, creating some key resonance in viewers, perhaps via the memory of past physical or metaphysical tension. Secondly, I want the artwork to function as an argument for the image of the body as a meaningful metaphor beyond the constraints of individual persons or singular moments.

A summation: “Everything takes form, even infinity. We seek to determine being and, in so doing, transcend all situations, to give a situation of all situations. Man’s being is confronted with the world’s being. The being of man is an unsettled being which all expression unsettles.” – Gaston Bachelard, from The Poetics of Space