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March 27, 2008

"looking for you" a new series of paintings by Matthew Ivan Cherry

I have painted the nude sporadically throughout my life as a way to formally see, paint, and tackle narrative dialogues. The potential for pleasure and pain is always present with a body (physically, mentally, and spiritually.) I feel that death too is always close by. These are different than anything I have painted before. They are much more direct and honest and authentic.

Decisions of size, scale, vantage point, and positions of these nudes are all the result of my need to paint the people I encounter in a way that celebrates yet confronts, that is matter of fact yet greater than or celebratory of, that shouts out and validates the “joe” that is in all of us. They challenge the notion that what is ideal and/or beautiful is not what Hollywood or magazines show us…but rather what nature and life provide. They are not nudes for the voyeur…yet admittedly acknowledge the fact that they have subjected themselves to be looked at. I have never been able to distance myself from the nude and create works that are just about the voyeurs gaze and the appetite of looking. Indeed the nudes that I am creating challenge the viewer, they do not wait for the chance of a second glance seen discreetly from the side of one’s glasses. They stand face forward confronting the potential viewer, begging for conversation, soliciting more than a casual gaze. They are realized and full-fledged portraits. They are titan-sized and positioned in a stance that make the viewer the object scrutinized. They stand blatantly aware, amassed together, a front that forces the audience to look at and look within, while moving amidst the masses of naked flesh.

I see the person/object in their physical form residing before me. In time, something else is revealed, something more authentic, something under the skin, through the skin, something outside of them all together. I can be looking at them for hours and then the next minute I am looking at them anew for the first time…really seeing them. It is unpaintable. It is spiritual.  It is more true than the tangible. Somehow in my exploration and the delivery of paint and marks I endeavor to create something just as real, just as living, just as authentic, just as spiritual.

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