Shop Maine Craft presents “Hang in There, Baby!”, A Matt Demers Solo Exhibition at the Center for Maine Craft in West Gardiner.
On View: June 3 – July 16, 2023
Matt Demers is a visual artist living and working in Gardiner, Maine. A quiet person, Demers closely observes the fevered and cross-talking world, absorbing and collecting its art and ephemera, and learning or imagining the meanings that odd objects, forgotten texts, and torn treasures carry with them. Demers is or has been an art and antiques collector, sign maker, gravedigger, embroiderer, antiques dealer, and graphic artist; those experiences shape the various techniques and media that make their way into his paintings. He is drawn to the misfiled and overlooked fragments of the past and the ways they might shine if rightly considered.
Demers’ paintings are abstract, and include media like acrylic, spray paint, house paint, and collaged ephemera. Drawing is critical to his artistic practice. His drawings on post-its, the backs of work orders, or on vintage writing pads fill his studio and notebooks, forming a loose index of observations and ideas about them. Demers’ abstract, mixed-media paintings accordingly emphasize line, yet rather than delineate, Demers’ line tangles forms and associations within each other, suggesting the all-at-onceness of careworn antiques, Charlie Brown, graffiti, medieval armor, Instagram, floral wallpaper, and music.
A list of influences written in Demers’ sketchbook includes drawn thoughts in the form of looping line drawings, and words including: “growth, change, music, rhythm, lego, comics, happy/sad, landscape, processing, observing, masks, swirling, accumulations, piles of stuff.” Elements of his paintings sometimes resemble and sometimes only symbolize fragments of the world and associations about them. In the paintings, jumbled associations mount into form, only to be painted out, eroded from the painting’s surface, or covered by a different thought. Demers’ paintings, in other words, are about everything at once, snagged and stacked over the surface, the very pile-up of contemporary life, and the way it feels to think about it all together.