February 2 – 25, 2023
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 2, 5:30-7:30 PM
Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to present Dissolution, an exhibition of new work by Matthew Scheatzle.
In his series of “wood paintings,” Scheatzle renders dynamic figures and landscapes from found wood and colored resin, often invoking a developed taxonomy of visual tropes to construct the composition. The practice is intensely physical as the artist cuts, sands, and meticulously arranges the wood on the panel; but each piece remains emotionally driven and highly introspective, enticing the viewer with abstraction of faces and figures.
In composing the work, Scheatzle navigates a push and pull between either following the grain and natural form of the wood, or conversely manipulating and cutting down the material to fit a predetermined shape. In Vapor, for instance, the patterning of the background and elements of the face keep the original rings of the wood intact; they lead the artist, and he follows. The wriggling lines at the throat of the figure are rather imposed upon the wood, showing the assertion of the artist’s hand. Each composition, in this way, honors and builds from the material, and simultaneously converts it into something entirely new.
Scheatzle has developed an idiosyncratic imagery in his work, a series of visual themes that repeat themselves across each composition. In his portrait-like works, a lattice pattern often covers the figure’s face. This imposed geometry functions like pixelation, obscuring the identity of the figure with these rigid squares and affording it some anonymity to the viewer. Groups of small tadpole forms also pervade through the work. These protozoan forms have a motion that stands out against the more solid structural shapes, indicating a directionality and an entropy that emanates from them. These little shapes represent life, an increase in tension, an epicenter of energy in the work.
For Scheatzle, the natural quality of the wood and the manufactured quality of the resin are not disparate entities in opposition, but rather become a singular new material of these elements woven together. The organic and synthetic structures of each are reimagined into a sublime substrate that combines attributes of both, an apt metaphor for the integration of the natural and the technological elements of our current era. The boundaries of each material dissolve into each other, and the inherent properties of each meld together to create an entirely new solution.
The imagery of the exhibition revolves around this titular theme of dissolution and reformation. In an untitled work, the dense background of the bottom of the composition seems to evaporate toward the top. In Terr-Braids, the background blends with the foreground where bands of wood overlap the figure. In Janus, there is a more theoretical dissolution. Scheatzle begins to play with the traditional form of the figure as he incorporates two lattice faces on one body, blending dual identities in one portrait. In each piece, density dissolves into spaciousness, foreground dissolves into background, and the self blends with its external perception.
Scheatzle’s innovation and curiosity about the material and how it morphs is at the core of his practice. He transforms what starts as chunks of found wood into something that has an energy of its own. He creates something from nothing, imbuing the raw material with intensity, emotion, and life.
Matthew Scheatzle was born in San Francisco in 1972. He earned his BFA from Sonoma State University in 1997 followed by his MFA from Mills College in 1999. Scheatzle has been awarded several grants and fellowships including a 2013 grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. This is Scheatzle’s first solo show at Dolby Chadwick Gallery.