Anthropologist, curator and UBC Professor Nicky Levell’s interests are located in the interdisciplinary folds of anthropology, theoretical museology, material culture and critical curatorial studies. She responded to Matthew Monahan’s work.
This series invites cultural and critical producers to present thoughts and ideas rooted in their own interests and practices, and invites audiences to join in the conversations that will explore relevant contemporary issues, theories, ideas and culture.
This was the first solo exhibition in Canada of work by Los Angeles based artist Matthew Monahan. The survey for the first time brought together three distinct phases of his practice: early works using drywall, more recent pieces from the series utilizing large sheets of glass and industrial ratchet straps more usually seen securing heavy loads, and these combined with new works in cast bronze often standing atop columns or structures made from materials found in the foundry – bricks from smelting ovens, large sheets of metal. Running throughout was Monahan’s interest in the interplay between two and three dimensions, between drawing and materiality, infused with personal mythology and a self-reflective look at the conventions of museum display.
Selected from work made during the past eight years, Monahan’s figurative sculptures and drawings evoke artifacts from another time or era. With their battered, weathered surfaces and contorted, fragmented bodies, they could be ancient totemic figurines, tribal masks or chunks of Greco-Roman statuary. But instead of marble, wood or stone, Monahan imbues less weighty materials like Styrofoam, wax and paper with a sense of substance, meaning and artificial patina. Some figures perch on rectangular pedestals of unfinished drywall, whose raw edges and exposed fixings interrupt any impulse toward preciousness; others are contained within glass cases simultaneously acting as container, plinth and discrete element within the overall sculptural composition.
Matthew Monahan is interviewed for Life on Mars the Carnegie International in 2008. Matthew Monahan’s first Canadian solo exhibition opens at the Contemporary Art Gallery on Thursday April 26 and continues until July 1, 2012.MORE