FIERMAN presents 1978, a new solo exhibition by Arizona-born, Queens based artist Matthew Kirk, comprised of new paintings, works on paper, and sculpture. Kirk is known for his energetic, all-over aesthetic and his use of humble materials, some found, some based in the construction and commercial art handling industries, as well as his investigation into his own Navajo heritage and the political implications of Native American culture.
Matthew Kirk’s paintings exude a rhythmic intensity based in a matrix of mark-making that the artist has developed over the past decade. He freely mixes oil pastel, chalk, gouache, spray paint, graphite, acrylic paint, colored tape, and brass BB’s in a compositional strategy that merges a representation of the landscape of the Southwest and the freeform abstraction of music. Across Kirk’s oeuvre symbols reappear –a pair of boots, a basketball hoop, a Navajo man with a ponytail— creating a distinct visual world of the artist’s own design.
His use of sheetrock and plywood as painting supports reflects a rubric of using readily available materials, primarily from the construction industry, as well as found objects. The purple color serving as the ground in Fence Hopper, the largest painting on view, is inherent to the material, a signifier of the commercial grading of the sheetrock, and as such functions as a found object, much like the bricks used to compose the boots in Papa Boots.
The title of the show, 1978, refers both to the year in which the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) was passed, and to the year of the artist’s birth. AIRFA established federal protection for the religious practices and holy sites of American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians. The enshrinement of freedom of worship for his brethren mirroring his own lifespan serves as a metaphor for his own time-based, spiritual approach to painting. Matthew Kirk (b. 1978, Ganado, AZ) lives and works in Queens, NY. A self-taught artist, he has recently had exhibitions at Adams and Ollman, Portland; Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago; Louis B. James, NY; Exit Art, New York. His work has been published in The New York Observer, Modern Painters, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. In addition to the show at FIERMAN, Kirk will launch a series of limited edition leather chairs made in conjunction with Erickson Aesthetics at CONSTANCE, 219 Madison Street.