Matt Henry: User Friendly
24 September 2011 - 06 November 2011
Auckland-based artist Matt Henry creates meticulously painted minimal paintings that act as hybrid objects. His paintings often replicate, in fastidious detail, the proportions and slick surface quality of domestic appliances or humble architectural fixtures. Key to his practice, is an investigation of early 20th century abstraction in art and minimalist influenced industrial design. Within this enquiry Henry blurs both art and design to consider how aesthetic idealism and commodification are now intrinsically bound.
For the exhibition User Friendly, Henry continues this artistic enquiry by exhibiting a new series of paintings that intervene both boldly and surreptitiously throughout three gallery spaces. However, in this body of work Henry has created more ambiguous objects. Crucial to creating this ambiguity is his considered response to the site. Here the paintings are placed in sympathetic relationship to themselves and the given architecture. As one walks through the galleries certain qualities of individual paintings and the interior space are revealed. Variations in size, colour, orientation and height of installation all act to direct an experience of the space. In the gallery entrance three white paintings create optical trickery by falsifying reflections through the glass doors. The other two galleries feature inverse combinations of red and black paintings that emphasise the parallel positioning and seemingly indistinguishable differences of these two spaces. The paintings themselves are hand painted with numerous coats to the extent that they appear to be cast in porcelain. Their dimensions reflect that of electrical casing, kitchen cabinetry and one that mimics the 16:9 ratio of a flat screen television. By blurring their resemblance as different types of desirable objects, Henry meddles with the ascribed value of the minimalist aesthetic - to both question and capitalise on the subjective systems of cultural and financial worth at play.