Matthew Monahan

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  • Published : May 7, 2013
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Currently residing in Los Angeles, the artist has previously lived in China, Japan and Holland and consequentially the metaphor of travel runs vividly throughout Monahan’s art work, in both his compression of genre, history and its subsequent displacement. There is a feeling that these sculptures have been ‘lived’, and not just made, and they have come about through years of fascination, observation and experience by the artist. Monahan’s sculpture typically combines charcoal drawing with carved figures (made from expanding foam, photocopies, beeswax) displayed in a museological presentations fashioned from building materials such as plasterboard and glass. In many of the latest works, the artist exploits a sculptural tension and gravity by continuing to explore the presentation of his work on, in, or around the plinth. The recent works include pieces that are literally ‘in space’, almost floating, trapped between two panes of glass and tightly held in suspension by industrial straps. Other sculptures have been created around a drawing. In one work, a large sweeping charcoal portrait is encased inside a glass vitrine (or rather, a vitrine is built around it), subverting the inherent hierarchy of sculpture over drawing. Matthew Monahan uses unconventional pedestrian materials—whose surfaces are manipulated with glitter, wax and spray paint to achieve the effects of aged bronze and other metals—to create monumentally scaled figurative sculptures. The bodies of his sculptural heroes and heroines appear to have been built from unmatched spare parts. With wires and strapping, each section is precariously tethered to the whole. As such, Monahan’s sculptures seem to hover in a state of fleeting existence, projecting the illusion that the forces of nature could turn them back into unrecognizable rubble at any moment. His works succeed in engaging the viewer in a dialogue between contemporary and ancient; alien and disparate parts. His fragmented figures—with their...
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