Different Versions of You, 2016.
39 x 29 inches. Acrylic on Canvas
This weekend is the last time you can see the Matthew Bourbon show up at Kirk Hopper Gallery, and it would be a shame to miss it. Despite the fact that he was one of my professors at UNT, and that I have reviewed a few of his shows in the past; I say to you that he creates good paintings which are worth writing about, so you will have to forgive me for writing about him more than once or twice. After all I write weekly and sometimes for multiple cities, so occasionally I might talk about a few artists more than once.
If you like Painting with a capital P, then Bourbon is someone you should get to know better. He uses a variety of applications to create diverse marks with paint. Thick and thin, graphic and loose, all painted on the same canvas. Bourbon doesn’t stress over whether narrative and figurative art is in fashion, because his paintings hug the line between figurative and abstract painting. You can’t easily derive a clear story, but only get a feel for what is going on, so you start to get lost in the shapes and you become aware of the paint that made the picture.
I mentioned before that Bourbon isn’t affected by what is fashionable in art. Don’t get me wrong, he is very plugged into the art world around him. He does write about art, so I know he must see a lot of work. If you follow art fairs and curators, you can see that subjects, styles, and artists fall in and out of fashion. I have seen several artists change style and approach as often as the wind changes direction. In contrast, Bourbon has been on a consistent painting style that changes not with fashion, but rather with each painting he produces. You can see him incorporating new things, like a different type of composition, a subtle shift in subjects, or a new brush stroke. These things appear in a few paintings as he tries out different moves, some carry over to the next show, others disappear, and other elements are refined. You can see him learning from each body of work. No radical shift, but rather a more fluid and evolving development in his painting career.
I also mentioned narrative or storytelling earlier in the article. Often times you hear people say that abstract art is whatever you want to see. Much of 20th century Modernist movement was moving toward pure, non objective art. An art where the viewer has to do more work looking at a painting to get something out of it. Bourbon, however is making the effort to help create boundaries and guidelines for the viewer that implies narrative. Thus, we bring things to his painting, but we are not completely lost for probable meaning like we might be in a totally formalist abstract work.
His show titled “If” closes October 1st at Kirk Hopper Gallery. Matthew Bourbon is a prolific painter and one to watch. You still have time so go see a good painting show.