Chason Matthams

New York artist Chason Matthams is a painter of our times, making work referencing memes, digital interfaces, net art, and generations of art history. In his latest show at Thierry Goldberg, he "has cast a wide net, reeling in images from all over the digital spectrum, their forced juxtapositions leading to pointed and humorous commentary." His work perfectly illustrates the accelerated context collapse of the last decade. It is from this collapse that Matthams rebuilds context and meaning.

Various Spectrums (Crockett Johnson's "Homothetic Triangles," Milton Bradley's "The Bradley Educational Colored Papers," and Ken Bushe's "Oil Painting of a Rainbow in the Landscape at Sheriffmuir") over Thomas Moran's "Rainbow over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone,"   oil and acrylic on linen, 2017

Various Spectrums (Crockett Johnson's "Homothetic Triangles," Milton Bradley's "The Bradley Educational Colored Papers," and Ken Bushe's "Oil Painting of a Rainbow in the Landscape at Sheriffmuir") over Thomas Moran's "Rainbow over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone," oil and acrylic on linen, 2017

In Various Spectrums… we see eleven spectrums, some as traditional rainbows, and some as more contemporary references, all set in Thomas Moran's painting Rainbow Over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Here, Matthams has used the rainbow— a sometimes "utopian and escapist symbol"— as a counterpoint to blind optimism. The rainbow is stripped of meaning through its sheer repetition, like repeating a word out loud so many times over it sounds absurd.

Fabelar's 3D Marge Simpson (detail) w/ Vädersolstavlan “The Sun Dog Painting” (copy of a Urban Målare original), overpainted w/ Hyacinthe Rigaud's "Study of Flowers," with additional study of Hyacinthe Rigaud's "Study of Flowers,"   oil on canvas with resin and oil on linen over board in custom frame by Michael Ryan, 2017

Fabelar's 3D Marge Simpson (detail) w/ Vädersolstavlan “The Sun Dog Painting” (copy of a Urban Målare original), overpainted w/ Hyacinthe Rigaud's "Study of Flowers," with additional study of Hyacinthe Rigaud's "Study of Flowers," oil on canvas with resin and oil on linen over board in custom frame by Michael Ryan, 2017

Lisa Williamson’s “Bed Shade with Margins” cropped and set to wallpaper , oil on panel, 2015

Lisa Williamson’s “Bed Shade with Margins” cropped and set to wallpaper, oil on panel, 2015

(Left)   Zeus (magenta)  , oil on linen, 2016 (Right)   Godess with Diadem (magenta)  , oil on linen, 2016

(Left) Zeus (magenta), oil on linen, 2016 (Right) Godess with Diadem (magenta), oil on linen, 2016

His paintings Zeus (magenta) and Goddess with Diadem (magenta) are gorgeously rendered neo-classical bust paintings awash in a soft magenta glow. The colors are a clear nod to vaporwave aesthetics, and in this way repurposes imagery that is already on at least its third repurposing— from the ancients, to the Renaissance, to the 'net. It's enough to wonder if context collapse can be traced to Renaissance artists repurposing ancient Greco-Roman art.

Mellow Drama , acrylic on linen, 2015

Mellow Drama, acrylic on linen, 2015

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Daffy Duck with ´The Ecstatic Virgin Anna Katharina Emerich` by Gabriel Von Max", oil and acrylic on cotton, 2015

Rainbow Balloon 5 (a bigger rainbow and a rainbow within) with Thomas Moran's "Rainbow over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone"  , acrylic and oil on linen, 2019

Rainbow Balloon 5 (a bigger rainbow and a rainbow within) with Thomas Moran's "Rainbow over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone", acrylic and oil on linen, 2019

In Rainbow Balloon 5 Matthams has again juxtaposed a contemporary rainbow with Thomas Moran's Rainbow Over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This time we see a single rainbow mylar balloon obscuring the middle of Moran's natural beauty. Its humor is kitschy but also dark in the way it highlights the two polarities of ecological collapse— the natural world being annihilated and the consumer trash causing it.

Untitled (white, light blue and magenta camera)  , oil on panel, 2019

Untitled (white, light blue and magenta camera), oil on panel, 2019

If you’re in New York you can see his show at Thierry Goldberg through June 9th. Matthams will also have work in group exhibitions this summer at Danese/Corey and Ashes/Ashes. Follow along on Instagram to see what’s next! @chasonmatthams