Things unroll. Things roll over. They layer. The self becomes an old wall, pocked, pin-holed with old bits of tape, notes, afterwards, images crossing its memory surface, some personal, some external. Matthew Rose’s vast array of collages, but also his rich life as visual artist, author (both as journalist and novelist), and traveler/curator attest to such layering of a single being. His visual projects range from painting, drawing, collage work with a wide variety of materials, videos, even boxes such as “Maybe” (pictured here) which is part of a triptych hanging on his house and studio wall. The pure white of “Maybe”, about as pared down colorwise as Rose’s projects get, exemplifies the fundamental roles for Rose of language entering his artwork and humor touching on seriousness. Maybe to hatch? Maybe to be born? Maybe to be an egg? To break an egg, maybe, to split open? To begin? Maybe might separate to May Be: as in may it be, exist, may being be. Maybe is even permission, or a response to the request, May I be? The word at the back, white on white, announces this is a Pandora’s box, this tension between object and language, thought and gaze. It is also a contemporary response to Hamlet’s conundrum, To be or not to be? Maybe.
However uncertain or indecisive the word and world of “Maybe” is, in reality Rose’s only vacillation appears to be what medium to be at work in. Most any day of the week, Rose can be found elbow-deep in a project, tucked away in his studio near Montparnasse, often manipulating paper, wood, canvas. Cutting and pasting. Though he has also made videos, Rose prefers paper—“its texture, how it absorbs or not paint, how it rots.” Many of the materials Rose uses come from his walks of the Paris streets. “There is a sensibility here [in Paris,…] an openness. It’s easy for me to work here. The street gives me a lot of stuff. I find things all the time—pieces of string, paper, forms. You don’t fall into a coma here—like in America—there is a clash of history. Things can be hard or soft here, but the street and the architecture tell you things. To be honest, I spend a lot of time here [in my studio].” This said, Rose is also to be found trekking the world. Recent projects have taken him to Israel and Sri Lanka, and this year alone he has had shows in France, the USA, and Mexico. “Travel is a different surface and a different language,” he explains, it is also a way to force himself out of himself, since he admits, “It takes a lot to knock me out of my own head.”
Rose’s current project is in fact focused on the world. He is curator for the global collaborative community project “A Book About Death”, show opening on Sept 10th 2009 at the Emily Harvey Gallery in New York City. It is an homage to Ray Johnson, Emily Harvey, Marcel Duchamp and others. From Ray Johnson, called “the father of mail art” the show takes on its postal aspect, inviting artists of any stature from around the world to contribute 500 postcards involving the words “A Book About Death” on them (call for work at the right column of the show’s blog, at http://abookaboutdeath.blogspot.com/). “The idea is that everybody is an artist,” Rose explains. For Rose, who met Johnson three times, “part of my mission is for people to think about Ray’s work […which] was idiosyncratic and mysterious, […] For Ray, a piece of paper could be a book” and his “letters were like events.” In fact, Rose explains, in one project Johnson mailed photocopied papers with one-line stories with a drawing on them. Such work is not unlike what one will find in the event Rose is organizing this fall.
But the A Book About Death project is equally attached to the founder of the show’s venue, Emily Harvey. Harvey, according to Rose, was “a person with no respect for Hierarchy. The story was always that she could be with a collector and then a UPS guy would show up with a splinter and she’d stop everything to help him.” Rose hopes this exhibition, not focused on his own work but focusing on bringing people together in one space will thus echo Harvey’s ability to bring people of all walks of life, and artists of all levels, together into a center of the world revolving around a space of Harvey’s (often called “the den mother”). To this end, Rose has been focusing heavily on web technologies, trying to drum up connections, reach out through the ethereal lines of zeros and ones, to lure artists from all reaches of the world.
The show will also disappear, as those who attend it will be invited to take a packet of 100 cards of their choosing away—“the Duchamp idea of putting a show in a box, put a rubber band round them,” Rose states, “I want the cards to disappear. The exhibition disappears.” The symbolism of the show’s title, and the date, one day before Sept 11th, is not lost on anyone.
However, Rose is not only organizing group projects for others, he is also hard at work on many of his own personal projects. When it comes to his own collaging, modern technology gets left behind. Instead of the popular photoshopping, Rose gets out the scissors and glue, the paint and pencils. “Cutting and pasting is physical, an intellectual-manual labor. You discover the thing as you physically produce it. I’m an object-maker. I make things,” he explains, adding, “You have to cut in order to see.” And in the details here, from some very elaborate collage works, one can see not only the attention to seeing, but the difficulty that Rose’s work presents at times to the viewer. For forthcoming shows, keep an eye on his website. Collectors and others passing through or in Paris are also invited to contact the artist for a private showing via firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer K Dick is an author (of Fluorescence, Retina, & Enclosures) and teacher (currently at EHESS and Ecole Polytechnique). She co-organizes the bilingual IVY reading series with Michelle Noteboom in Paris which began in a gallery thanks to curator Susie Hollands. Jennifer is now completing her PhD at Paris III on visual uses of the page in poetry: text and image in works by Anne marie Albiach, Myung Mi Kim and Susan Howe.
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook. First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte’s professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 3 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.
I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
I look forward to meeting you on my tours and it will be my pleasure and delight to show you my insiders Paris.
Check it out at www.eyepreferparistours.com