When I saw Matt Rich’s exhibition “Razors & Vapors,” I experienced a deep sense of déjà vu. I had never seen Rich’s work before, but there was something familiar about his paintings, something recognizable yet unexpected. His paintings are collages (or maybe his collages are paintings) of cutout pieces of paper. They are geometric and colorful. Roughly cut triangles and circles and squares are the foundations of this exhibition. The shapes are smeared and flecked with paint, and there are tears in some of them. Up close, the textures of these cutouts—little bumps and globs of dried acrylic—jut out from the paper. (An element of haphazardness pervades the work, and while there is a slapdash feel to the brushstrokes, the overall shape and color of the paintings are fluid and rich.) Take a few steps back and the smears and adjoining pieces of paper blend together, and the image of the painting comes together like a jigsaw puzzle.
The compositions of these paintings are as recognizable as their titles suggest. The painting titled “Face” indeed looks like a face, and the painting “Bird” looks like a bird, but after staring at them for some time the arrangements became amorphous. I was no longer looking at a face, and I no longer saw a bird. The colors and shapes melted into something else entirely, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of déjà vu. Perhaps that sensation was invoked by the basic shapes of childhood. Or maybe it was brought on by the assemblage because at times it felt like I was seeing the individual pieces separately and collectively at the same time. (Todd Renier)
Through June 8 at Devening Projects + Editions, 3039 West Carroll