PRESS RELEASE - Matt Magee: Thought Forms

Press Release
10/03/2008

October 3-November 15

Artist’s Reception: Friday, October 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO — Eight Modern is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Matt Magee: Thought Forms.

New York artist Matt Magee creates graphic systems of language based on an internal, undefined lexicon of shapes and colors. His art is inspired by his Texas childhood, much of which was spent accompanying his geologist father to sites of Native American ruins and pictographs throughout the American Southwest.

The first thing Magee and his father would do after returning from a journey was organize all the rocks, arrowheads and other artifacts they had collected on the driveway of their home. That impulse is reflected in Magee’s work, which often uses rows of similar but distinct images.

“I want those shapes in my paintings to be out of the subconscious, out of somewhere deep,” Magee says. “They reference some arcane language I’ve always tried to create that is a mixture of all my interests. My impulse, rather than abstract painting, is to line up all those experiences into codified forms.”

Even Magee’s process is based on systems of writing: he starts in the upper left-hand corner of a canvas and works his way across and down. His exhibition title, Thought Forms, references a 1905 book by Annie Besant and Charles Ledbetter, which theorized that every color represents an emotional state and that art – such as Tantric art from India – can serve as a meditative template. This idea resonates with Magee, who conceives his art as a reflexive surface that both gives to and takes from the viewer.

Magee’s work also contains many self-discovered aspects. Until approximately 10 years ago, the artist worked in earth tones and monochromes and was admittedly “afraid of color.” But through experimentation, he has found great success with a palette of tertiary colors.

Magee received his B.A. from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, in 1983 and his M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute in New York in 1986. He served as Robert Rauschenberg’s assistant from 1994 until the famed artist’s passing in 2008 and continues to work for his Foundation. Magee has won grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the New York State Foundation for the Arts as well a residency at the Albers Foundation.