On a rustic hardwood floor or on a slab of concrete, we see a jumble of scattered shapes: triangles, circles, rectangles, wrenches, chains, files, apples, tools… Using a deceptively random composition, Matthew Porter bridges two worlds: the abstraction of elementary forms and the banality of everyday shapes. These images aptly encapsulate the work of a photographer who delights in playing with opposites and contrasts: shadow and light, flatness and volume, tradition and modernity, nature and culture. As in a painting or a collage, every element in Matthew Porter’s work evinces a keen sense of composition, of draftsmanship, of the picturesque.
Here, however, what matters most is light. The title of the exhibition, The Sheen, The Shine, underscores luster and reflection, which are among the artist’s chief preoccupations. Light is certainly what allows the image to exist, but it also serves to reveal: the sheen of a mirror, the roughness of a hardwood plank, the coolness of metal, or the warm curves of an apple. Playing with textures and materials, light allows Matthew Porter to revisit a timeless repertory of forms.
Matthew Porter made these photographs in the studio of his father, a sculptor marked by modernist influence. The simple and pure forms in Porter’s photographs immediately bring to mind Calder, Klee, Picasso, Braque. They are also evocative of the Bauhaus school in Germany which, in the 1920s, contributed to the renewal of visual arts and design. The title of Kandinsky’s essay Point and Line to Plane (1926) could well serve as a caption to one of Porter’s images.
The photographer thus pays a double tribute: to his father, who guided him on the road to artistic creation, and to the great figures in the history of modern art whose experimentation inspired his pursuit of abstraction. The Pandora’s box that was modernism had liberated forms and minds. This fascinating artistic revolution continues, and Matthew Porter humbly carries it on.
By Coline Olsina
Matthew Porter, The Sheen, The Shine
January 18 to March 2
Galerie Xippas, Rue des Sablons 6 & Rue des Bains 61, 1205, Geneva, Switzerland