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Work on paper by Matthew Craven

Matthew Craven

April 30 to May 30, 2021

Ampersand is pleased to present RELIQUARY., an exhibition featuring new drawings by Matthew Craven. In a globalized society, the mass production of goods creates an immediacy that often hides the labor and history of the people who produce these objects. Intricate textile motifs, ceramic vessels, ceremonial masks and other hand crafted objects emerge from a fundamental human necessity—to create language. We are compelled to create because it allows us to externalize and share our world. Craven’s hybrid drawings and collages assert themselves into this collective history. Behind his mesmerizing arrangement of form, line and color is the foundational desire to share the beauty that spans centuries of human experience. Researching sculpture and decorative patterns, digging through used books and junk shops for collage source material—these are the catalysts for his work. But the combination of moving from Los Angeles to Berkeley right before strict shelter-in-place orders were enforced and the subsequent inability to explore his new environment disrupted the “normal” research integral to his art practice. “In 2020, I was left sitting in my studio looking inward for inspiration,” he says. “I recognized this moment as a different kind of challenge, one that required an exploration of my internal world. I had a lot on my mind and poured it into this work.” The drawings still have Craven’s distinguishable order, but the more rigid elements are beautifully interrupted by new and flexible organic shapes. “In some instances the more fluid shapes replace previous collage elements by using found images as stencils to create borders and outlines of new forms. It’s ambiguous and visually lush.” The titles of the new works—specifically TEMPLE., ALTER. and CLOISTER.—allude to the act of introspection, something spiritual. “While my head felt cluttered during the pandemic, creating these drawings was a release for me. I let the imagery come to my mind's eye. A stream of consciousness. Meditative drawings in the middle of a mad world.”

Matthew Craven lives and works in California. He received his MFA from The School of Visual Arts, New York. His work has been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions, including Lifelines and NETWORK. here at Ampersand.


Image: Matthew Craven, "OCULAR.", 2021, Ink on found Paper, 23 x 15 inches.
© 2021 Matthew Craven and Ampersand. All Rights Reserved.