Installation view of Matthew Deleget: Pictures at an Exhibition, Cress Gallery of Art, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, 2012

Matthew Deleget: Pictures at an Exhibition at Cress Gallery of Art
by Sylvie Fortin
November 10, 2012

“Pictures at an Exhibition,” Matthew Deleget’s current solo show, features works made with common materials — painter’s tape, drywall screws, garbage bags, paint rollers, pushpins, and spotlights — which modulate walls, canvases, and pedestals to variously delicate, violent, and playful effects, and turn the gallery space into something of a construction zone. In the process, Deleget casts painting as a site-sensitive practice that enlists an expansive repertoire of gestures: wrapping, dipping, hammering, pushing, screwing, floating, flooding, and throwing away.

Deleget mobilizes a restrained palette—red, yellow, and blue; black, white, and gray. Three large yet unmonumental works anchor the main gallery. The entrance-facing wall is awash with Color Vulture (all works 2012), in which three monochrome floor-to-ceiling projections (in red, yellow, and blue) cast painting as event. A store-bought white rectangular canvas hangs hesitantly at the center of each pure-color projection: a reticent star in the hot spot. But stardom is here unsustainable and color unstable. Color bounces off the wall, sullying the edges of the neighboring canvases, while use unevenly and unpredictably fades the spots’ intensity. As one moves toward and along the work, one draws and redraws the canvases’ borders. Their shadows expand and retract uncontrollably on all sides. Viewers are left oscillating in a battleground between control and contingency. Ultimately, Color Vulture is a metaevent: a play on the rectangle in the third power. It also nods to Mondrian’s 1926 essay “Home-Street-City.”

One Thousand People Just like Me assaults a nearby wall with half-drilled-in screws, creating an immersive, if at times nearly imperceptible, grid. As one traverses the space, shadows variously thicken the screws/strokes, turning the work into a constellation of recombinant works-to-come. Across the room, Nuclear Error tenuously blankets a wall with twenty-five black thirty-gallon garbage bags, hung gridlike with static electricity and a few black pushpins. When push comes to shove, Deleget’s tight show proves the infinite power of deft gesture.

Sylvie Fortin is an independent curator, critic, and editor. She was Editor-in-Chief of ART PAPERS magazine from 2004-2012 and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Ottawa Art Gallery from 1996-2001.

Installation view of Matthew Deleget: Pictures at an Exhibition, 2012

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