September 11 - October 16, 2021
From Gray Contemporary:
On Longing brings together a series of new drawings by Matthew Woodward. Including works that span the last 4 years, these works showcase a changed direction for Woodward. Woodward continues to examine the material and emblematic conditions of mourning, however, here he pivots to explore mark-making set strictly to black and white surfaces and contexts. Woodward’s body of work borrows heavily from the built-environment, responding to architectural language and symbols. In an effort to reclaim these symbols of architectural meaning, he removes them from their context, newly articulating and reshaping the symbol on his own terms. He engages this artistic research in a variety of milieus and materials, including the page. Woodward’s consistent use of paper gestures at the idiomatic (if unspoken) nature of architecture as a dominant yet underarticulated aspect of culture-making. Architecture implicitly shapes our civic life. Encoded in its materials is an emotional charge to which the collective memory of a place is tied. Woodward’s works point at a desire to view architectural symbols as an antiquated temporal language that could offer tools to comprehend the irregularities and particularities of our own time. The drawings of On Longing are representational, yet lead the viewer into an experience of warping or reconfiguration. Separated from their original references, the symbols open the way for alternative meanings to emerge from within the their formal and material structure. Architectural symbols, changed in Woodward’s drawings, push away established values and open the door for a radical reassessment. In 181st Street (2019), an ornate set of detailed interlocking symbols pop dramatically, their rendering forming in the relief of white paper emerging out of a black-painted background. The top left side of the large-sized paper is torn away, suggesting both the intensity of care in the creation of such symbols, and their inevitable decay in the world, both physically and culturally. In 19th Street (2020), a pattern emerges on a white page — the graphite thick and clear in places, and in other places, barely visible, revealing both the (past) scaffolding and (future) ghostliness of creative work.
In 19th Street, Woodward articulates the simultaneity of mathematical precision and devoted artistry required to develop and make (and remake) the physical and emotional patterns of our public spaces. As we grapple collectively with shared crisis, On Longing offers relevant inquiries to our project of rediscovering ourselves, our neighbors and communities amidst impossible upheaval. The pandemic has revealed to each of us our intricate interconnectivity with one another and with the places that contain us. How will we encode our world to move forward, yet remain beholden to the memory of such irrevocable loss? It is in the drawings’ ability to reclaim and alter the symbol that the possibility of a commemorative language might emerge. —Matthew Woodward and Maura Pellettieri
Artist Matthew Woodward is a New York based artist. In 2005, he received his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from New York Academy of Art in 2007. Woodward’s art is included in collections such as The Ritz-Carlton Residencies, Chicago, IL, Purdue University, West lafayette, IN, and The Elmhurst Museum of Art, Elmhurst, IL.”
Reception: September 11, 2021 | 1–8 pm
3508 Lake Street
Houston, 77098 TX