Notations: The Cage Effect Today, Hunter College / Times Square Galleries, New York, NY

Matthew Deleget
by Annie Wischmeyer
Notations: The Cage Effect Today
Published by Hunter College / Times Square Gallery, New York, NY, 2012

Cage’s use of systems and chance operations was a means by which he could divest his work of self-expression, preferring to let sounds be themselves, and ever fearful to have them bear the burden of carrying some meaning. Cage let go of the romantic notion of the artist’s hand: aesthetic decisions should have nothing to do with the artist.

Taking up his mantle, Matthew Deleget writes “I am decidedly unromantic…it is all a means to an end.” His approach to his work is straightforward — paint is used straight from the tube without any kind of emotional underpinning — and applied without any romantic posturing. Cleansed of any expressionistic content, his work turns into and investigation of reductive abstraction and its capacity as a vehicle for meaning — or lack of.

In Monochrome (Sleeper Cells) (2007), Deleget uses the same white paint of the gallery walls and a roller to paint over a trio of mirrored paper surfaces. Inspired by the slapdash over-painting of graffiti by landlords hasty to obliterate the illicit signatures of street artists, Deleget turns the gesture on himself. In an active of artistic self-effacement, or rather defacement, Deleget circumvents any attempt to read expressive content in the work. A coat of white paint denies the reflection of the mirrored surface save for the edges that peek from underneath serving only as a reminder of what is being rejected. The surface that had served as a mirror for both the artist and world is here rendered mute and impassive. Refusing to divulge any information, these paintings offer instead only a stoic silence. Or, in the words of Cage, “I have nothing to say and I’m saying it.”

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