Las Vegas-based NZ artist Matthew Couper's new paintings are gestural, full of historical symbolism painted in isolation, reflecting on our current environment.
“Recently, my work has been focused on water issues, albeit very symbolically. That is, using historical forms to talk about present issues. We live in the desert and of course water and usage is a big issue, yet it seems that water shortage is spreading across the globe as there are many record droughts in effect at present. I guess the bigger picture is about contemporary survival, again because we live in such a harsh environment. When you see it everyday, it really hits home. The most recent body of paintings are looking more inward at the phenomenon of Social Isolation in a time where the world population is at its highest ever. It’s really about how we live, or don’t live in relation to other people and how we often live in a false sense of security, not really ready for slight shifts in the environment or other chaotic factors in society. Visually, I’ve started off with the term ‘desert island’ to tie where I live now in the Mojave Desert with where I come from in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The literal reading of the term circles back to the idea of survival and there’s activity taking place – wooden constructions haphazardly coming together, ropes binding structures and organic forms used as supports. There are only hints of human presence such as pipes.” Matthew Couper, 2020
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