Matthew Deleget: Pictures at an Exhibition
Curated by Ruth Grover
The Cress Gallery of Art
UTC Fine Arts Center
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
October 9 – December 7, 2012
“The inspiration for the title of Matthew Deleget’s exhibition derives from the musical composition Pictures at an Exhibition written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. Mussorgsky penned his composition in 1874 in response to his visit to an actual exhibition in St. Petersburg, Russia. The score simulates the experience of a visitor to the exhibition, a musical interpretation of standing before an individual work of art and mentally absorbing and interpreting its formal qualities, narrative, and meaning. These movements are linked by transitional passages whose tempo references the act of walking from one picture on to another, and whose tone and mood suggest mental reflection.
There have been attempts to determine the exact works of art that inspired Mussorgsky yet the difficulty of recreating an exact visual image from the musical score is problematic. Mussorgsky’s 19th century musical version remains as the only documentation of that exhibition, the memory of the composer translated to manuscript of staff and note. Mussorgsky’s musical simulation, and stimulation of the senses in its arrangement, becomes a form of abstraction. Abstract things are sometimes defined as those that do not exist in reality or exist only as a sensory experience.
Matthew Deleget’s reductive abstraction creates a its own rich sensory experience in response to the broad plurality of our 21st century world; a world where the idea of any singular reality has been replaced by discoveries of science, advances in industry and technology, the development of the field of psychology, the rapid accumulation of knowledge, and the burgeoning worldwide web whose complexity of content is nonetheless founded upon the simplicity of the binary function.
Deleget’s Pictures at an Exhibition will feature all new work specifically created by the artist in the spaces and dimensions of the Cress Gallery. Merging painting with conceptual, process, and installation strategies, Deleget’s two and three-dimensional works present premise as concrete, thought as object. Each installation is considered as a part of a total entity; each is a movement to be considered within the whole of the gallery. Their elaboration is derived from the pragmatic, the employment of “off the shelf” consumer goods as materials for construction; items familiar to each of us, now posed in a new yet straightforward context as visual predicates, their distilled qualities made visible and tangible.
Deleget’s work is not about “Pop Art”, “Op Art”, nor “Minimal Art” yet it does build upon those histories. As paint for Deleget is just another material purchased at a hardware store, Deleget’s exhibition is less about painting, and much more about painting as a metaphor, a frame of reference to lead to other thoughts. The conceptual, the abstract, has been both the genesis and the result of “art making” since prehistory as the ability to abstract is considered a trait solely of the human species. While it might be said that abstraction is unconcerned with the literal depiction of the visible world, it can be said reductive abstraction fully engages with the complex and difficult realities of that world in a thoughtful, sincere, and direct manner.
Yet in acknowledgment of the intricacies of conceptual development, Deleget shares another connection with Mussorgsky’s work. Joseph Albers (1988-1976) the internationally renowned abstract painter and theorist, designed the cover for a Command Records 1961 recording of “Pictures at an Exhibition”. Deleget organized an exhibition of Albers record covers in 2009 that included this album, and it continues to hang on the wall of his apartment to this day.”
– Ruth Grover