Urban Dilemmas: Randi Matushevitz Goes Large
huZ galleries, San Pedro, CA
By Genie Davis
Randi Matushevitz’s art has always been bold. Working in layers of charcoal, spray paint, and pastels on canvas and paper, smudged images compel close observation, darkness and light co-mingle, a sense of mystery edges out the familiar, as her expressionism both seethes and sweetens in the works she creates.
One of the most interesting aspects of Matushevitz’s work is that of dimension: along with large central figures, smaller images are fused into the landscape, each of which could be a smaller-scale individual work. Another fascinating part of the artist’s imagery is how she manages to infuse a kind of inward light within and behind even the darkest forms. Matushevitz says that her artwork “reflects the fragility of human connectivity” and illustrates how “our point of view impacts our personal world experience.” She creates works that reflect the changing natural environment, as well as the politics and social schemata of today’s world.
Perhaps for that reason alone, to take on concepts this inclusive, Matushevitz needs a broad canvas – and now she has exactly that, with works that measure as much as 110” x 72”. In her current show, Urban Dilemmas, now at huZ galleries in San Pedro, Matushevitz has found the large scale she needs to take on subjects that are rich and wild. Two California-based curators helped to guide her here.
“I went big after input from Andi Campognone and Max Presneill. I met Andi at a portfolio review at MOAH and Max at the stARTup Art Fair 2017 in Hollywood. Each gave me a wealth of input including a challenge to go big, and I did. I am grateful for their accessibility,” Matushevitz attests.
Painting on such a large scale is challenging, both emotionally and physically for the artist.
“At first the scale was daunting and almost overwhelming. I stand at 5’3″, and have to use a series of ladders to reach 10 feet high. Now, I’m fine with it. I create even larger works.”
In fact, Matushevitz at times has even turned vertical works horizontal, and worked on them at this angle to reach the edges of her canvases.
“The large scale is what the work demands. In the future, I will be investing in a lift,” she says.
The often-dark palette of her work is offset by a kind of interior glow that Matushevitz achieves with the layered mediums that she employs. “The way I create an art work is to layer line and shape, drawing and painting, again and again. I work and rework the images, changing compositions and palettes until the artwork is true unto itself,” she relates. “The formal aspects of the craftsmanship, the application of materials, and my knowledge of color theory is crucial to creating the atmosphere and the forms within it.”
Hope, the largest of the large works Matushevitz is currently exhibiting at huZ galleries, offers a commanding central figure who almost seems in a dream-like state. From her hand, silken cords seem to descend, both binding and succoring. Pale blue, gold, and white flowers bloom around her, golden and maroon shadings peek through and into her white top. She may be Mother Earth, or a goddess, and smaller figures that appear fairy-like trail from within or are connected to her cords, as do their shadows, and landscapes of what could be ruined cities emerging from a tea cup. The flowers, which are thick, as if ready to burst forth, indeed convey hope in this world; the white background behind the figures, shadows, and lines seems suffused with white light, a pre-dawn world waiting to erupt. At the bottom of the canvas, a metal chain-link fence and cloth flowers are strung, both holding the central images back from viewers and daring them to look past it, and enter this profoundly beautiful yet simmeringly dark land.
What Will Be Left For Me? gives us a textured, lone female figure against a dark, shadowy mass of lines that evoke, as in Hope, a ruined city or perhaps a decimated forest. Pale peach trim on the girl’s shirt and along the lids of her eyes seems to glow. There is a fire, a resistance to the world in which she dwells. In Throwing Coins, which Matushevitz reveals had a multitude of incarnations, a large woman in a vivid green shirt towers above a tent, a small figure in a tub, a road with cars, and what appears to be an explosion. This perhaps is what Matushevitz herself is doing, throwing artistic coins into the void, forming a passion for life writ large above shrinking options for the world’s survival. Viewers will see echoes of this idea in two other pieces, It’s a Gas, in which a thoughtful male figure is the central, large character; and Reinventing the Four Freedoms, in which airplanes and cars share space with a wise, green-visaged, bearded man, while the disembodied face of a woman with deep ruby lips observes. Evoking a fallen statue of liberty, she looks both fiery, dismayed, and lost.
Fierce and fantastical, Randi Matushevitz is going large in scale and in intent, painting her vision of the world, and take it on, too.
341 W 7th St, San Pedro, CA 90731