Anthro-Peel presents a selection of new work by Matt Gee, made during his time on the Continuum Residency at Husk Coffee and Creative Space. These works, taking the form of collage, printmaking and sculpture, are a response to various geological and environmental phenomena, processed through the artist’s material-led practice.
Our city, like our planet, has been laid down in layers. A slice through the strata of our streets reveals Victorian sewers laid alongside Roman baths, plague pits dissected by high-speed railways, and long-forgotten sacred spaces beneath car parks and supermarkets. Sometimes preserving, sometimes crushing to distortion, sometimes irreversibly metamorphosing, this urban-ply mirrors the action of the Earth’s crust, where fossil fuels, marble and diamonds are created by destructive forces.
There’s still no consensus on whether human activity has had a profound enough effect to permit the renaming of our current geological epoch to the ‘Anthropocene’, a term that implicates our species as the dominant influence on the environment and climate of this era. This uncertainty, of whether the human hand has made an indelible mark on the surface that supports it, is of great interest to Matt Gee. An aesthetic of ambiguous origins has become characteristic of his work: landscapes that look like abstract paintings; sculptures that masquerade as geodes.
In a period where the trace you leave behind acts as an indicator to the stature of your morality, consumption of images (immaterial as they are) is guilt-free. In his latest works, Matt Gee responds to changing attitudes on the sanctity of images by subjecting ‘traditionally-made’ prints to processes more commonly seen on billboards. Pasting over, obscuring, and tearing these carefully crafted pictures, the artist reflects a society where preservation may not be a priority.
Text by Philip Elbourne