Matt Chambers, Painter– Very few artists admit to painting with their glasses off, but very few artists paint so prolifically and—more to the point—so arbitrarily as 28-year-old Matt Chambers. Originally from Boise, Idaho, Chambers initially came to L.A. for film school but dropped out, opened a short-lived closet-sized gallery space in Chinatown, and eventually began making his own art. Today he produces drawings, books, and paintings in an industrial studio space he shares with artist Brendan Fowler in Atwater Village. Chambers’s large rectangular canvases, often thick with layers of oil paint, have the energy and giddy imprecision that suggest a deeper interest in getting the image down than making it right. The subject matter comes from an onslaught of “classical” sources—junk mail, advertising fliers, magazines, and basically whatever else lands near the artist’s feet to grab his attention (he tends to shy away from Internet searches). In effect, Chambers seems to be taking an anti-conceptualist stance with his work, refusing to play philosopher, spiritual guide, and translator for his audience. “I never have to deal with the repercussions of how people are going to read my paintings,” he says. Here, process is more important than product. “It’s never about finishing a picture,” he swears. “That’s why I’ll work on 40 canvases at a time.” When a canvas becomes too loaded, he will rip it into strips and create sculptural paintings by weaving the strips together. For a recent show at the UNTITLED gallery in New York, Chambers swore he sent the nearly 40 canvases without giving direction on what the gallery should do with them in terms of their exhibition. “That ends up reading to me like, ‘artist as tastemaker’ and ‘artist as arranger,’ ” he muses. Certainly, even a refusal to play the game of the art institution is playing the game, but Chambers fresh, free-flying tactic of swallowing and spitting out is about as alive as painting can get these days.
Matt Chambers in his Atwater Village studio, Los Angeles, October 2010. Jumpsuit: Copperwheat. Boots: Dolce & Gabbana.
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