coup d’pietà

Matthew Monahan

November 16, 2012 – December 22, 2012



18:00〜 Opening Reception
19:00〜 Artist’s Talk(Navigator: Takashi Murakami)

Message from Takashi Murakami

I first encountered Matthew Monahan’s work at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, when a solo project of his was on display at the same time as my retrospective ©MURAKAMI. After seeing the show, I immediately asked the MOCA curator about the artist and arranged to visit his studio. I was very moved by his work and felt that I was witnessing the very pinnacle of present day sculpture… as well as its future! It was like electricity working its way up my spine from my toes to my brain.

If I were to describe Matthew in the simplest terms, I would say that he is deconstructing the medium of sculpture. He is a miraculous artist who deconstructs, blurs, and reconstructs the human, mythical, physical and superficial boundaries that exist within sculpture’s history.

For example, Matthew is capable of composing a sculpture by encasing a styrofoam cube in glass, wrapping it in a nylon belt, and covering that framework with melted styrofoam and folded paper drawings. The finished product is quite imposing on a visual level and yet it is made of weak materials with the weakest possible reinforcement.

In another well-known work, Matthew took a viscerally folded body of origami and cast it in bronze. It has the look of folded paper but is made of bronze, an incredibly heavy material. Both of these pieces retain the basic visual elements of ‘sculpture and base’ and ‘wall-mounted relief’. In fact, the artist seems to have been conscious of this sculptural formality.

For this new show, Monahan continues to create works that betray initial impressions but has also introduced new elements. Working with plaster as a foundation, he has combined this highly fragile material with metal… a combination that makes a theme of its own basic unfeasibility.

And once again, the look is quite new. There is an emphasis on figure and a sense of movement, sculptural movement, that is reminiscent of Rodin. However, by combining this sense of movement with the unbalance generated by the fragile materials, he imbues the work with a fragility that is the opposite of Rodin’s intended machismo, thus deconstructing sculptural movement itself.

In short, Matthew is constantly working on the very frontier of sculpture, making pieces the likes of which we have never seen or heard of before.

Matthew Monahan is an American sculptor and is now 40 years old.

After studying at New York’s Cooper Union, he lived in Holland and then relocated to Los Angeles, where his talent began to bloom. In conversation, he has told me that the relaxed, free-wheeling air of LA is key to his practice. He occupies a unique space within the contemporary sculptural community.

In 1999, Matthew was an artist in residence at CCA in Kita Kyushu and he and his wife Lara Schnitger spent a year living in Kita Kyushu, meaning that he is quite familiar with Japan. This familiarity is perhaps self evident in the way he transforms flat materials into three-dimensional sculptures.

From the time Kaikai Kiki Gallery began four years ago, it has been my dream to do a Matthew Monahan exhibition. Now, I finally get my wish and am able to introduce his work to everyone in Japan. I am certain that his world will connect with our own innate sense of flatness and I hope you enjoy it.

– Takashi Murakami

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