That was then, this is now
that was then, this is now is an exploration of materiality, identity, and performativity. Experimenting with a multitude of media, Matheson employs a compelling mix of conventional and non-traditional materials to offer a sharp conceptual investigation of queer identity formation. Juxtaposing the ‘masculine’ and the ‘feminine’ – hard and soft materials – Matheson reflects on his lived experiences as a queer individual during his formative years. In his Parallax series, Matheson creates bold textured paintings utilizing industrial material, like tiling grout, which he then applies vivid chromatic hues to.
The artist utilizes thick and gestural applications of grout creating a rigid and uneven texture on the canvas. Then, Matheson spray paints opposing sides of the canvas with different fluorescent colours, creating an eye-catching illusory effect. Dependent on the position of the viewer in relation to the work, the colours change and morph.
This visual effect, whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions, is a literal reference to the myriad of ways identity is constructed and performed. It highlights how we, consciously or unconsciously, shift the ways we act in order to be perceived in the ways we wish to the outside world. Contrasted to the rough surface texture of his Parallax series, Matheson’s pairs a duo of bright pink silicone works in the exhibition, which further amplifies the tension between hard and soft, masculine and feminine, in the artist’s material exploration.
The coarse ‘masculine’ exterior of the grout is juxtaposed to the tender and more yielding ‘feminine’ texture of the silicone. The artist pours and moulds the silicone – enveloping the entire board. The soft and smooth texture of the silicone evokes skin and the body. The pink is an exaggerated reference to the re-coding of queer sexuality stemming from the AIDS crisis. The alluring, almost campy, quality of the bright pink can be read as masking the various systems of control placed on queer bodies.Matheson’s work is a potent investigation of the artist’s personal experiences of becoming and identity. His critical exploration of unconventional materials probes into the complex process of identity formation: the conspicuous and inconspicuous ways we self-fashion and perform our identities in the world.
The artist would like to acknowledge the funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.