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About Matthew

Baltimore County

Matthew McConville was born in New York State, the sixth of eight children, he earned a B.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design and a M.A. and M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He received a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in 2002, 2004 and 2006 and was artist in residence at Akasha in Minneapolis Minnesota from 1997-1999, Isle Royale National Park 2012 and at Kaus Australis Rotterdam, The Netherlands 2013. Matthew is currently Associate Professor at Goucher College in Baltimore... more

Still Life/Landscape Painting

The first group is the landscape/still life series. The landscape images are sometimes borrowed directly from 19th Century paintings by artists such as Frederic Church and Albert Bierstadt, and incorporated into a small domestic space. The starting point was the thought that while we still place great value on the original paintings, they represent a view of the world that is anachronistic. For the Hudson River School generation the wilderness was certainly a place to visit, but the work of human civilization was always under threat from chaotic natural forces that would undo all of the hard work of building a habitable environment. Our conception of largely undisturbed tracts of land is that they represent a fragile order that is under threat from excessive human encroachment. We have become the chaotic force, and those endless landscapes appear very finite to us.

Figures in Landscape

This series started simply enough, the initial paintings were made in reaction to all of the images men have made of nude women over the years, by substituting male figures in the attitudes seen in images of women. Seeing un-idealized naked men in passive poses offered scant comfort to most viewers, and the paintings were surprisingly off putting. As the series evolved it became more about human relationships, with an emphasis on the behavior of men. The figures are self-involved, prone to violence, not necessarily smart, as well as curious, playful, and vulnerable. The cast is drawn from average people, a little out of shape, less than perfect. The combination of the nude figure and landscape recall Arcadian images, unreal, and unrealizable, neither past, nor present, part of a collective imagination. While the landscapes are beautiful, like the figures they are not wholly idealized, and at times unsettling and uncomfortable.

Like the other series this work grows out of an art historical context. Embracing the artificiality of idyllic scenes in classic works, my paintings re-imagine them populated with contemporary people, struggling with contemporary thoughts. The newer paintings emphasize the connection between creativity and destructive behavior. Single-minded ambition can just as easily lead to a poor outcome as a positive one. I recognize this tendency in most people, myself included, and admire it, but also recognize the need to temper its excesses.

Flowers for the Anthropocene

We appear to be at a pivitol moment where gene editing could lead to massive changes in the range of living creatures that exist. This coincides with a mass extinction event. The project borrows from the language of 18th century Dutch and Spanish still life paintings to imagine what might be possible in the near future as DNA moves across kingdoms from plants/animals/fungi to create hybrid forms. Our track record suggests that our abilty to manipulate these forms outstrips our abilty to anticipate where these changes will lead.

The process in making the works involves accident and uses modern synthetic art materials.

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Matthew's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.