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Ask Ellis

Matt W. Brown
August 7 – September 4, 2020


Matt W. Brown, Primary Channels (detail) 2019, acrylic gouache on paper. Courtesy of the artist.

Matt W. Brown began this series of works on paper during a period of profound grief over the loss of a child, Ellis. Contemplative and solitary, the slow process of production involved making folded paper trays to contain diluted pigment and then waiting for weeks to see what evaporation would leave behind on the paper.

As an observer of physical laws governing the materials, Brown soon realized that what had vanished through evaporation was as intrinsic to the work as the visible traces it left behind. Just as a used envelope bears the impression of what it once contained, what is no longer present in the work physically, still exists in the folds of memory and time as evidenced by the accretion of pigments on paper.

According to the artist, “a fold is a weakness, a wound running the length of the paper. A fold is a doubling over; a bend that leaves a scar. It is a condition that forces one thing to become something else. It is an awakening, showing an object in the second dimension that there is perhaps a third.”

The Deleuzian concept of the fold describes the way in which we produce subjectivity through experience. In contrast to conventional notions of a simple interiority/exteriority binary, Deleuze asserts that the inside is nothing more than folding of the outside. Indeed subjectivity comprises an array of folds: of time, memory, our bodies, and our incorporeal being or spirituality.

Struggle in the political and social sphere, or within ourselves, inevitably produces new kinds of subjectivity. For Brown, the process of folding paper and evaporating dilutions provided room for introspection and self-awareness in response to loss. Always interested in process-based outcomes and variations, Brown has used them here to create a liminal space for the production of his own subjectivity in relation to personal tragedy. These works echo the ephemerality of existence while creating a meditative space for the artist to incorporate, or fold into himself, the accumulated contingencies of lived experience.

About the Artist
London artist Matt W. Brown explores incidence, contingency, and liminality through works on paper. He has exhibited in Halifax at the Nova Scotia Archives, Anna Leonowens Gallery, RBC Waterside Centre, Eyelevel Gallery, and the Visual Arts Nova Scotia Corridor Gallery. In London, his work has been featured at Fringe Gallery, Forest City Gallery and Artlab Gallery.

Brown received a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design with a major in painting. He is now completing a Masters of Fine Arts degree at the Department of Visual Art, Western University.


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