Monday, April 4, 2011

Adam Matak Q&A out today

The work of Toronto-based artist Adam Matak has been catching attention over the past few years for the way it pictures viewers' possible relationships to art.

With a show just opened at the Agnes Jamieson Gallery in Minden (and another recently closed at the Thames Art Gallery in Chatham), Matak's got a lot on the go. I felt fortunate he took some time to chat with me a few weeks ago; the resulting condensed Q&A is out in today's National Post. An excerpt:

Q Your paintings address our experience of art in museums and galleries. Why?

A I spent seven years as an educational tour guide, leading high-school trips that went to all the big art museums in New York, D.C. and Chicago. It's the job that got me through university. This examination of the museum scene really grew out of that -watching and talking to people at the Met and the National Gallery.

Q What did you notice during all those years of touring museums? Some of your paintings show people yawning and talking on cellphones.

A Well, I never noticed anyone yawning in those places. I did notice people being overstimulated and bored at the same time. You could have these very sexual, violent, over-the-top images and people were desensitized to them. It made me think of a Michael Bay movie, all these things exploding and people are like, "Oh, whatever."

Q Does part of that "oh, whatever" relate to the way art is taught? You have a degree in education, and I wondered if related concerns were in your paintings.

A Yeah, I guess so. I love art history. I just drool over it. And my art is kind of like teaching in that you're pulling people by the hand, saying, like, "Hey look at this; maybe this is something you're missing out on." There's a time when I was in Chicago looking at a Cézanne, and I had this trippy moment, this intense feeling of condensed space and time. I was thinking about how Cézanne would have held this object more than 100 years ago, and now this object was in front of me. Just thinking about us viewers, or creators, as a link in this really, really long chain got me excited. It's almost like a letter that's passed from person to person to person. There's this huge tradition of making images that's existed ever since we were cave people. It's quite beautiful.

Read on at the Post for more of Matak's insights.

Until I started research for this Q&A I wasn't aware of a different Matak body of work that Canadian art specialists will likely find amusing: Signs of Culture, a series of silhouettes of contemporary Canadian sculptures. You can look at the array and guess, if you wish, at which work belongs to which artist, be it Douglas Coupland, Iain Baxter&, Shary Boyle or otherwise. Besides a guessing game, I enjoy it as a pseudo-scientific classification of contemporary Canadian art, or as a hopeless search for a unified theory of national art.

(Image of Adam Matak's Fall of Man Courtesy Adam Matak)


Ingrid Mida said...

I really enjoyed this interview! His work is fresh and unusual.

Leah Sandals said...

Thanks Ingrid! I enjoy the kind of in-your-faceness of the work too.