Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Matthew Sontheimer

Points of Order, 2012
Mixed media on paper | 9 1/4 x 9 7/8 inches
All images courtesy of the artist and Talley Dunn Gallery. re-post from my article back in June 2012.

Think about the movie "Beautiful Mind," where the main character John Nash has filled his office with seemingly connected information, or artist Mark Lombardi mapping a kind of conspiracy in visual form. Now take this global mapping compulsion and focus in on the conversation level and you might start to see Matthew Sontheimer's unique perspective.

Are these works collage, drawings, or remnants of scripts for short plays? My guess is that these works are undefinable conceptual creations that are more about ‘becoming’ than being something. A sense of story is laid out with connective lines, breaks, and images; but the mass amount of text in works like “Three Season Porches,” and “Points of Order” leave you a bit baffled. You get lost in trying to read all the words, which have a similar effect to his old work in which he actually obfuscated his words. I have often found when presented with visual art using a massive amount of words, the text starts to abstract and you start to see shapes and the composition becomes more clear. Only when you focus in on the works, maybe take a note pad of your own and take notes while reading, can the conversation start to take shape. “Points of Order” could almost be an internal dialogue as he is describing his process while you read along. He listed the paper he is using and the font he has chosen, like a Postmodern novelist, he seems hyper aware and self-referential while he is writing.

Visually, I see a toned down David Carson, Ray Gun Magazine styling to text and image, mixed with concrete poetry, and sketch book aesthetics. His content makes me believe he is mostly influenced by the sketch book, because the words seem so personal in his thought process. I know when I was getting my Masters at UNT while Sontheimer was there, some of the professors pushed the idea of recording your thoughts or journaling your ideas. As an undergraduate in Graphic Design, I was also required to keep a journal. I have looked over a great deal of fellow students’ journals and students’ journals in my classes. And Sontheimer clearly has the look of the sketch book down, but his dialog is like journaling into a kind of stream of consciousness.

Talley Dunn Gallery presents ‘In Conversation’ through September 1st. Though in the project gallery space, Matthew Sontheimer’s work has a huge presence which lends itself to spark conversations outside the picture plane. for more pictures.

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