Work samples

  • Apollo (Son of Krypton)

    Oil on canvas, 24" x 18"

  • Perseus Slays Medusa (Lincoln/Douglas debate)

    Oil on canvas, 78" x 52"

  • Civil War (Capt America v Iron Man)

    Oil and graphite on paper, 14” x 18”

  • The Great White Hope (Jim Jefferies)

    Oil & acrylic on canvas, 78" x 60"

About Matthew

Baltimore City

My path as a Baltimore-based artist started in Columbus, OH before going west to St. Louis, east to New York City and then joining the love of my life here in Charm City. It began with endless superhero drawings, followed by rigorous training at an art-focused high school, a concentration in painting at Washington University in St Louis and graduate study at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. My work has been exhibited along the way in the Northeast and Midwest. At each stage,… more

American Olympus

These paintings portray flawed heroes from an amalgamation of comic books, history and mythology. The figures share aspects of noble strength and genocidal brutality in their deeds and conquest.

The examination of the truth and virtue of these figures has an urgent voice within our contemporary society. Our culture embraces superheroes but we continue to resist examining these icons for deeper meaning and insight. My works are visual manifestations of the societal status of superheroes -- these characters and their stories have become secular mythology.  They are a uniquely American art form whose characters have acquired great significance. Artistically, there is a direct lineage from the muscular figures of Michelangelo to these pop heroes. From their mythological melting pot I like to draw (and paint) parallels within my work to contemporary and historical figures and similar narratives from different cultures. The figures are as flawed and inspiring as our own country is.

Formally, abstraction and realism are simultaneously present as gestural swaths of paint exist next to focused areas of representation. I seek an emotional response with this work; my goal is a vibration between imagery and the medium as a gripping, vibrant surface.

  • Thor at Ragnarok (Custer’s Last Stand)

    Oil on polypropylene, 40” x 26”

  • Thor at Ragnarok (Custer’s Last Stand) [detail]

    Oil on polypropylene, 40” x 26”

  • Perseus Slays Medusa (Lincoln/Douglas debate)

    Oil & acrylic on canvas, 78" x 52"

  • Apollo (Son of Krypton)

    Oil on canvas, 24" x 18"

  • Civil War (Capt. America v. Iron Man)

    Oil and graphite on paper, 12” x 16”

  • Civil War (Capt. America v. Iron Man) [detail]

    Oil and graphite on paper, 12” x 16”

  • Civil War (Capt. America v. Black Panther)

    Oil on paper, 20” x 20”

  • Battle for America (Capt America v. Hulk)
    Oil on polypropylene, 26" x 40"
  • Incident in the City (Black Lightning)
    Oil on polypropylene, 40" x 26"
  • Promethian physics (Firestorm)

    Oil and acrylic on canvas, 86" x 53"

Manifest Destiny

A group of paintings and drawings reimagining the form and metaphor of late-20th century American figures and events - Theodore Roosevelt (the Warrior-Preacher naturalist); Buffalo Bill (Western folk hero and exterminator of Native Americans and Buffalo alike); and The 'White City' (the World's Fair Columbian exposition in Chicago in 1893). The historical figures and events share virtuous and contemptible ideas and actions - the figures are not entirely heroic or evil, but some combination of the two. This grey area of morality is what I seek to represent -- our history as a country. How do these figures that were exalted in the past (and some still in the present) reflect our own simultaneous combination of good and bad desires and actions? We are fascinated, repulsed and magnetically drawn to these figures who exert power for war and peace, personal gain and common good.

  • African Safari
    Oil on canvas, 52" x 78"
  • Warrior-Preacher
    Watercolor on polypropylene, 24" x 26"
  • Faster than a Speeding Bullet (Annie Oakley)

    Oil on paper, 16” x 12”

  • Manifest Destiny
    Watercolor on paper, 14" x 11"
  • Buffalo Bill
    Oil on canvas, 78" x 52"
  • White City (Fire)
    Oil on panel, 40" x 50"
  • This Hammer's Gonna be the Death of Me...
    Oil on linen, 20" x 16"
  • White City (Columbian Tribute)
    Mixed media on vellum, 36" x 24"
  • White City (Court of Honor)
    Mixed media on paper, 20" x 26"
  • Ares (Old Hickory)
    Graphite on paper, 11" x 8"

The Capitol

One of the reasons I often use historical and/or mythological subjects is to avoid the knee-jerk reactions & emotions that accompany present-day persons and events. I wish the viewer to respond and react to the artwork, not their feeling about a specific someone or something that they already embrace or reject. But the recent white supremacist resurgence, led by Trump, and the Capitol Insurrection of 2021 have felt so urgent and pervasive that this imagery has invaded my visual thinking. Throughout my work, but particularly here, I am a white Jewish man trying to address my country, and my place and responsibilities in it. I still want these forms to be just outside of the viewer’s ability to completely judge. Figure and ground dissipate when one tries to grasp them in absolutes. Just like the American character —beautiful, atrocious —these forms exist in muddy water.

  • Protest (The American Way)

    Oil on canvas, 30" x 24"

  • Protest (The American Way)

    Oil, acrylic and printed photo on canvas, 11" x 8"

  • Speaker's Office (White Flag)

    Oil on cotton paper, 18" x 14"

  • Election Integrity Starter Pack (Abrams/Wonder Woman)

    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"

  • Election Integrity Starter Pack (Raffensburger/Magneto)

    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"

  • Untitled (John Lewis)

    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"

American Football

In the vein of cowboys and conquerers, I am fascinated by American Football’s allegory, dynamism and corporeality. It is the most universally popular sport, and form of entertainment overall, in our country by many measurements. It is a reflection of our culture and our past -violent fights to take land (yards) from your opponent, an accompanying deadly risk and possible reward of money, fame and glory. From the proxy political fights of race and nationalism, to the record of misogeny and lack of repercussions for criminal behavior (unless, of course, you disrepect the flag), the sport has never been more relevant or representative of our country. 

  • Protest (the American Way)

    Oil on canvas, 24" x 18"

  • Untitled (Black v White Football Game)

    Oil on canvas, 16" x 12"

  • Gang Tackle (White v. Purple)

    Oil & photo transfer on canvas, 14" x 18"

  • Gang Tackle (Red)

    Oil on paper, 14" x 18"

  • Football (after Nancy Holt)

    Oil on printed canvas, 12" x 9"

Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson

I created this series of work as an exploration of a figure who embodied attributes and contradictions exemplative of America - strength and courage in the face of unimaginable persecution; brashness, ego, and a desire for celebrity; and the ability above all to do amazing things. Our collective memory forgets his greatness as the first African-American champion. He was the Heavyweight Champion of the World in a day when that title equated to the world's strongest and toughest man. For this man to be black was a cataclysmic paradigm shift for American society (and the white race worldwide). I sought through this work to explore - not only the beauty of the boxing ring and its heroic figures, but also the parallel fight and dance of making art, all intertwined within the imagery of the courage and failures of Jack Johnson. These are my explorations.

  • Jack Johnson
    Oil on canvas, 24" x 34"
  • The Great White Hope (Jim Jefferies)

    Oil & acrylic on canvas, 78" x 60"

  • The Great White Hope (Jim Jefferies) [detail]
    Oil on canvas, 78" x 60"
  • Johnson v Burns
    Watercolor on polyproylene, 46" x 60"
  • Johnson v Burns [detail]
    [Detail]. Watercolor on paper mounted on board, 46" x 60"
  • Shadowboxing
    Watercolor on paper, 24" x 30"
  • Untitled (Fight)
    Ink on paper, 11" x 9"
  • Untitled (Fight)
    Oil on canvas , 78" x 52"
  • Untitled (Boxers)
    Mixed media on photocopy, 8" x 11"
  • Untitled (Boxers)
    Mixed media on photocopy, 11" x 8"

Artist's Book: Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson

A book of drawings and mixed media work of my exploration of Jack Johnson, his time and environment, and the action and intensity of the boxing ring.
  • Book Cover
    Printed artist’s book, 11” x 8.5”
  • Page spread (Boxers) - “Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson"
    Printed artist's book, 11" x 17"
  • Jack Johnson v. Jim Jefferies
    Charcoal on paper, 20" x 26"
  • Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson [book page]
    Graphite on paper, 14" x 11"
  • Page spread from "Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson" Artist's Book
    Printed artist's book, 11" x 17"
  • Page spread (Johnson v Burns/He Would Have Been Lynched Very Quickly)
    Printed artist’s book, 11” x 17”
  • Page spread from "Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson" Artist's Book
    Printed artist's book, 11" x 17"
  • Page spread from "Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson" Artist's Book
    Printed artist's book, 11" x 17"
  • Drawing for Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson
    Graphite on paper, 9" x 12"
  • Drawing for Invisible Champion: Jack Johnson
    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"

History of the United States

This series was a confrontation of images of race and our shared history of violence that stems from racism. I did not seek a specific message, commentary, or realization; I sought to excavate and emotionally attach to history and its present consequences with a series rooted in the tradition of history painting.
  • History of the United States II
    Watercolor on paper, 20" x 26"
  • History of the United States II [detail]
    Watercolor on paper, 20" x 26"
  • Portrait of a Black Man I
    Oil on paper, 14" x 11"
  • Portrait of a Black Man II
    Oil on paper, 14" x 11"
  • Portrait of a Black Man III
    Ink on paper, 28" x 22"
  • Portrait of a White Man
    Mixed media on board, 26" x 20"
  • Portrait of a White Man (Self-Portrait)
    Oil on canvas, 8" x 8"
  • History of the United States IV
    Graphite on paper, 20" x 26"

American Olympus Sketchbook

The pieces are finished sketches, but they are also not complete works; they lack a certain expansion of concept, concentrating only upon a specific part or character in their world. They act as phrases; I believe they directly express a certain thought or idea, though they do not form a complete sentence. Still, the works get at whatever they attempt to express in a way that is sincere, precise and immediate. Some have lead to or been born from larger and/or more developed pieces, others exist as singular works. 

  • Untitled (Firestorm)
    Acrylic on paper, 18" x 14"
  • fate_afterkirby.jpg

    Oil on inkjet print on canvas, 11" x 9"

  • Untitled (Dr. Fate)
    Acrylic on paper, 18" x 14"
  • Mystic in a Cowl (Dr. Fate)

    Oil & acrylic on canvas, 78" x 104"

  • Untitled (Wonder Woman)
    Mixed media on paper, 11" x 17"
  • Study - Wonder Woman (Breaking Chains)
    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"
  • Study for Black Lightning (Muhammad Ali)
    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"
  • Study for Black Lightning (Muhammad Ali)
    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"
  • The Ancient One
    The Ancient One, Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"
  • Golem (after Kirby's Silver Surfer)
    Mixed media on paper, 12" x 9"

Manifest Destiny Sketchbook

As I search for what these figures represent, I often start by drawing them in an attempt to extract an expression of form and concept. These sketches serve as the record of this search. Some are relatively straightforward examinations of form. Some veer towards the abstract or fantastic in an attempt to get at a larger truth or mythology that has become truth. Some turn towards a formal study of material on the framework of image.
  • Star-Spangled Banner (Achilles)
    Watercolor on paper, 12" x 9"
  • Untitled (Constitution)
    Oil on paper, 14" x 11"
  • Jefferson Presents the Declaration (Cicero)
    Mixed media on paper, 12" x 9"
  • Untitled (Washington)
    Ink on paper, 11" x 14"
  • Untitled (Buffalo Bill)
    Ink on paper, 11" x 8"
  • Untitled (General Grant)
    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"
  • Untitled (General Grant)
    Mixed media on paper, 20" x 30"

Theodore Roosevelt & the White City Sketchbook

"The White City" was the title of the Columbian Exposition in 1893 of the 400th anniversary celebration of Europeans discovering the Americas. It was a glimmering, temporarily-built city of white plaster (meant to look like marble) that was neo-classical in architecture; meant to celebrate America's ascension on the world stage at the end of the 19th century. I chose this subject as a symbol of an American city - grand and powerful, posturing as an extension of ancient Rome while frail in its exterior of white. The city and its sideshow carnival of "otherness" serve as various metaphors for race, power, and the history of our country.

Within my studies of the White City and the powerful figures of Presidents and leaders, Theodore Roosevelt struck me as a particularly fascinating character. His great leadership as President included important military victories and a proprietary stewardship of our natural landscape, yet he was also an Imperialist among other less admirable traits. These are my sketches and mixed media ideations of the man.
  • Study (Rough Riders)
    Oil on canvas, 12" x 9"
  • Study (Rough Riders)
    Oil on paper, 10" x 14"
  • Study (Rough Riders)
    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"
  • Study - TR (Bull Moose)
    Graphite on paper, 12" x 9"
  • Study (Theodore Roosevelt)
    Graphite on paper, 11" x 8"
  • White City (Fire)
    Mixed media on vellum, 7" x 9"
  • White City (Arch)
    Mixed media on vellum, 11" x 14"
  • Untitled (African Safari)
    Mixed media on archival print, 8" x 11"
  • Study (African Safari)
    Mixed media on paper, 11" x 14"
  • Untitled (Rhino)
    Graphite on paper, 8" x 11"