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Matthew Picton: Paper Cities

Christopher Henry Gallery
127 Elizabeth Street, at Broome, 212-244-6004
East Village / Lower East Side
December 15, 2011 - January 29, 2012
Reception: Thursday, December 15, 6 - 9 PM
Web Site

“Cities bring together culture and ideas, convert human power in to form, energy in to civilization, they are like brains directing and developing civilized life” – Joel Kotkin.

The organism of the city is that of a distinct entity that has been shaped by social, political, economic and topographic factors. Many cities have endured periods of calamity and trauma that have significantly altered or even ended their existence. A myriad of causes have been responsible, including war, famine, pestilence, flood, fire, earth-quakes and volcanoes. Often structures of monumentality, of seeming permanence and stability, there is an underlying fragility and transience that threatens the life of the urban entity. The city represents a fragile compact between the forces of nature and those of human desire and inequality.

The emotional history of the city’s life has found expression and illumination in the art forms of the societies of the time. Through film, music, literature and visual art, individuals and groups have sought to give expression to the times and places in which their lives were lived. Defining and traumatic events are often anticipated and fictionalized in advance of their occurrence, actual events are subject to endless repetition, replaying in the memory and the media. The events of 1963 and 2001 in Dallas and New York are seared in to the national memory. The city exists in memory as a complex hybrid of visual impressions and forms. Impressions are drawn from personal experience, film footage, and literary narrative; creating an inevitable blurring of the boundaries between fact and fiction. The sculptures, while fictional creations, are in part documentary records and the line of truth being firmly attached to the cartographic evidence.

The sculptures interweave the narratives of personal and public history and place them within the mapped framework of the urban form. Events both real and imagined are anchored and placed within the architectural spaces of the city site. The works suggest a paradoxical beauty, while the works attest to suffering and loss, they also present an ephemeral fragility.
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