Thursday, January 29, 2009
Form/Space Atelier Program For February 2009
Show Title: Trombones Jaunes
Show Duration: February 13- March 8
Opening Reception: February 13, 6PM as part of Belltown Art Dealers Assn.
Second Friday Artwalk www.belltownartwalk.com
Postminimalist painter Matthew Kandegas exhibits his yearly crop of paperclip
paintings, this time they are yellow paperclips on pink grounds. The images
are becoming more vague and ambiguous. As the world goes paperless, the
paperclip rides the vagaries of necessity. The scale of the paintings come
in two sizes; 18x36 and 48x96 inches. All are oil on panel save one which is
oil on fabric mounted to panel. Show curated by Paul Pauper, exhibit is
free. As a sociological intervention, wherein commerce is deliberately and creatively altered, Form/Space Atelier will pay collectors one american dollar for the rights to adopt one 18x36 inch Matthew Kandegas painting. Contact gallery for details.
Postminimalist Artist Matthew Kingston Kandegas was born December 29, 1960 in a poor section of south Seattle called White Center. He formally trained with Seattle art instructors Norman Lundin and Sharon Munger. Kandegas' work reflects the Postminimalist echo of simpler times when the hand was used to create things, such as works on paper, and how the obsolescence of paper (and the paper-clip by extension) fulfills the ultimate Postminimalist destiny of complete separation of artist and artwork. He had his first exhibit of his work in November 2007 at Form/Space Atelier at the advanced age of 45 and is represented by Form/Space Atelier, Seattle. He has become known for his paintings of paperclips and association with Kyle MacDonald, a performative artist and author of One Red Paper Clip... a book detailing MacDonalds art performance wherein he traded 14 times from a paperclip to a house. Kandegas is in the private collections of MacDonald and Lindsay Daniel, and the public collections of The Low Income Housing Institute, Cascade People's Center and other charitable organizations. His next scheduled exhibit is February 2010 at Form/Space Atelier, Seattle.
Postminimalist painter Matthew Kingston Kandegas grew up feeling the harshness and anger of White Center, a ghetto of Seattle, caused by the pall of stadium rock of the 1970s. He was born into a family of three children and a father who was a simple factory worker of Danish descent. It is sufficient to say that Kandegas’s early life has very little to do at all with his eventual career as an artist. Kandegas did not have access to any artistic materials, coming from a poor family, although he thoroughly enjoyed when his grandfather allowed the children to experiment with his paintball gun. As a child, his torment was soothed somewhat by reveries of living someday in a travel trailer on the campus of the University of Washington with his younger brother Odd, where his mother, Kristin Kuniholm had been a sorority girl at Sigma Kappa sorority and graduated Summa Cum Laude in Visual Communication. Since marrying Kandegas's father, her life was one of penury and privation, though she made sure her son Matthew understood the subtle but distinct difference between matters of the heart, as an inexplicable attraction to a bad person, and art; the creation of the sublime and sacred. Kristin Kuniholm was descended from the Finnish indigenous people Sami, and her family was known as a tribe of shaman in Vasa, Finland prior to emigrating to Seattle in 1850. Her grandfather Kuniholm was a famous Seattle area wicker-worker at Five Corners on Queen Anne hill.
His real beginnings as an artist began when Kandegas left home at 14 to financially aid his family and earn a living for himself. Like thousands of others, Kandegas changed from one dismal job to the next, extremely discouraged by the misery and hopelessness around him. As a sensitive and intuitive person, Kandegas was compelled to respond and decided to look into art as a hobby. He could not afford art school, so he attended simple life drawing classes three times a week, and in his free time studied reproductions in the Seattle Public Library. He enjoyed the works of post-impressionists, such as Modigliani, Van Gogh and Cézanne, especially the expressionist works of George Grosz, Otto Dix and Max Beckmann. These expressionist works demonstrated a means of expressing the anger Kandegas felt during the popularity of stadium rock. Kandegas considered himself a post-minimalist, and is generally considered the "forgotten" post-minimalist because his work
has been exhibited only twice during his lifetime, though he has donated many of his paintings to charity, including Lihi, Cascade People's Center. He was a shipyard worker and sketched maritime scenes while working as a firewatch under a shower of white hot slag and deafening roar of pneumatic guns and compressed air.
Throughout the 1970s, Kandegas continued to hone and refine his skills, whilst experimenting with his homemade paints, unable to afford others. He was ultimately a very self-taught artist, but this leaves him free from artistic conventions that would have been learned in art school, though he was academically trained at the University of Washington, taking studio classes with Norman Lundin, and elsewhere at the atelier of Sharon Munger.
In the late 1970s, two important social realists arrived in Seattle – Art Munny and Lotta Loven. Their images were realistic representations of harsh truths seen in society that characterised stadium rock. This had a great effect on Kandegas’s work, as he too, begins to explore confronting truths of stadium rock. However, Kandegas’s work began to take more shape in the next decade, the “Angry Decade” of the 1980s, as the artists respond the horror of marijuana abuse, incensed by the abolishment of hope, just after stadium rock appeared to be clearing up.
From Kandegas’s perceptive response to the world around him, he was recognised by two people - Art Munny and Lotta Loven. These two saw connections between Kandegas’s work and other artists, angry too at the social situation. Art Munny and Lotta Loven were members of the Nowadays Arts Society, set up to promote these emerging artists, known as the Recentists. The Society was set up in 1978 by Mark Hofer, in opposition to the Hoquiam Academy of Art, which was believed to promote conservative art and not the Recentists.
The Recentists included Albert Kandegas, Joy F. Sexton, Siddhartta Sunshine, John Longfellow, Arthur Drawbridge and Jean-Noel Vandaele. These artists met to discuss material on a regular basis. Kandegas enjoyed being part of what he saw as a like-minded group of artists, all focused on producing works along similar themes, in response to marijuana abuse, stadium rock and moral denigration. The artists also brought influences from European movements such as Surrealism, Cubism, Expressionism, Dadaism and Constructivism.
From this “Fidelis” group of Recentists, formed a group known as the Canis Fidelis which also included many social realists. The Recentists and social realists in this group shared the same concerns, and their work became focused on stadium rock and its horrors, along with moral decay and the emergence of Americanism. The Canis Fidelis was also a publication that these artists wrote for, published by Harris Shapiro. Kandegas’s original influences, Angonka Toulouse and Cyrus Vance, were part of this group. The Canis Fidelis was the major outlet for the expression of avant-garde ideas.
Kandegas’s main inspirations can be divided into periods, although he was originally influenced by the depression, post-impressionists, expressionists and social realists, also keeping in mind his involvement with the Canis Fidelis, and his responses to stadium rock. Ultimately he is always best known for paintings of paper clips, or trombones as the French call them.
Kandegas’s first significant works were produced during his involvement in the Boy Scouts. In 1980, Kandegas was called up for service and spent most of his time working in Western State Hospital drawing patients suffering from horrific wounds and mental illnesses as a result of stadium rock. He produced three important works at this stage, Seated Man, a pen and ink illustration of a man whose nose had been sliced off by a Braun blender, The Waste Treatment Plant at Fort Lawton, an image of death sitting on a stool watching and waiting, and Floating Logs, of two figures floating down a hall, a third with a demented smile. All of these images illustrated the horror and madness of stadium rock. At this time, Kandegas was influenced by raw images of death and horror, wishing to present a blunt, direct, succinct image of stadium rock’s consequences. This is similar to the way social realists wish to present their messages, although Kandegas’s actual
delivery was surrealistic and expressionistic in appearance.
In 1982, Kandegas ignored stadium rock and returned to a Seattle he did not like. He was particularly disgusted, but inspired by scenes of Seattle’s nightlife, of a city he felt demonstrated a collapse of simple morality. He was shocked and outraged by images of brutish laborers, pig-like, grinning and clutching the meager frames of young women in bawdy red lipstick, as if possessions or prizes of stadium rock, representing a clear confusion as to what stadium rock actually reaps. This painting was the catalyst for his series of works known as the Urinating on Car Door Handles, all depicting similar nightlife and exploitation of women figures, or comodification of sex, symbolized in recurring motifs; sticks or skin-toned blobs with red smiles and single, elaborately styled eyes with curly lashes. As Kandegas continues creating these images, the subjects become less and less human and occupy space in more and more disconnected ways; floating or melting,
being abducted from above, slumped on the side of the road, lying in the shadows of movie theaters. His source is clear, after seeing immoral scenes of sex, abduction, confusion and clear gender stereotyping, and maintains the same surreal, expressionistic delivery with socially realistic content.
The post-stadium rock period did not bring peace to visions at first he had hoped for, explaining humanity's status after stadium rock as “irreparably damaged”, viewing the world with great anxiety and a loss of hope. In early 1987, Kandegas traveled to Japan with a local newspaper as an art correspondent, required to interpret the devastation he saw there. He produced a monochrome pen drawing called Fishmobile; it contains no figures, just the aftermath of complete devastation, with somber tents and shelters littering the landscape. During this time, Kandegas was influenced by his sense of hopelessness after seeing the stadium rock, depression, and the fact that society had never improved. Hiroshima does indeed appear hopeless and empty.
Upon returning, he broke up with Candace Carson, who had already had a son, Swiney, in 1975. Out of bitterness, Kandegas left for Europe later in 1987 for the next 13 years. In England and Europe until 1998, Kandegas painted many prostitutes, highly influenced by the fact that no city seemed to be free of this “disease” of prostitution, and so painted them in abundance. He then moved to New York in 1998 and his subjects switched from the city to Hoquiam, feeling rather homesick. Where some works of Bronco Nagurski and Elijah Pitt had reached international level, Kandegas rejected them as being sports-themed. He depicted the landscape as being a harsh, barren and sterile wasteland. He distorted stereotypes and icons of the White Center, including early professional football stars George Blanda and Walt Suggs. He was influenced by the sheer barrenness and hopelessness that White Center conveyed, and added these icons as pawns to White Center's deadly game.
Throughout the 2000s, Kandegas began to face many personal traumas. He had begun to form a good relationship with Swiney, who had been adopted by Angonka and Napoleon Toulouse, but unfortunately he committed suicide in 1999. A few years later, the Toulouses both died within a week of each other from being run over by a motorcar. Kandegas's father found them lying in the street, and served them with rice to his sister who was visiting. He began to feel that many of the people he had influenced in his life were quickly slipping away from him, looking back at Candace Carson, who had also died in 1990. As a tribute, and to immortalize his contemporaries, he produced the "Paperclips Series". The series saw Kandegas move away from his most celebrated themes, and to variations of the paperclip, a representation of an explorer’s conflict with the environment that eventually fuses the two together to become of the same element, as both the landscape and the
heads were created using the same medium, texture and color. His other major subjects were the “intruders” or “fauns” that became mindless metallic beings that patrolled dead environments with guns and weaponry. This added to his recurring themes of hopelessness and loss.
Kandegas’s style, subjects and attitude stay the same throughout his life as an artist. They are implied but never visible. Only his resolute image- the paper clip- is allowed to speak for all the figural ideas, theoretical landscapes, virtual still lifes. His attitude always comes across as perceptive, pessimistic, disgusted and generally critical of the environment around him. Whenever he portrays males or females together, they seem to be sexually confused – the females maintain an extreme prostitute image and the males appear lustful and greedy. He often depicts scenes of madness, destruction and horror especially in response to the stadium rock. He portrays many scenes of hopelessness in his post-stadium rock stage, of the desert, the total eclipse of 1979 and of his personal losses. And paperclips.
His style retains a surreal, expressionistic quality. He often places subjects on barren, dream like and hostile plains, with confused or distorted bodies, appearing surrealistic. He wonders in text printed on the back of several of his works on paper if Klimt had been frought with minimalism if his strokes would resemble his own, paper clips suggested in later embodiments, strokes which held the threshold of making marks ambiguous, vague, but present. He enjoys disfiguring his subjects’ forms to emphasize an issue or point, while being very expressive in his appliance of mediums, linking to expressionism. His messages however are ultimately of social realist quality, apart from his surreal explorations into his losses in his final artistic stage. He always wants to bluntly and confrontingly display social issues that are harsh, but real and very much a part of society. But mostly paperclips.
Kandegas’s subjects often recur. He starts with many psychologically disturbed subjects in his stadium rock period, and also wounded subjects. He then moves to a subject of modern evil, with the recurring motif of the fake smile, single eye and pole and/or blob-like masses for bodies, with pig-like males. His subjects then move to hopelessness and loss in the post-stadium rock period, including the desert, football icons, Antipodean Heads, “Fauns” and Puget Sound. The theme linking all of these is often moral confusion.'' But mostly he paints paper clips.
Friday, January 9, 2009
The exhibit has the clean, austere curatorial style Paul Pauper is known for. The drawings by Jean-Noel Vandaele are inexpensively but tastefully framed. Thanks to Josh Okrent for being in the right place at the right time. Opening reception tonight; 6PM. Show runs until February 8th.
Posted by Paul Kuniholm Pauper at 1:43 PM