Matt Connors ‘Figure’ The Modern Institute, Glasgow 11/01/2020

Matt Connor (2019) Detail-Translated Union Bug, Wool, Cotton and Cotton Warp, The Modern Institute

When I eventually managed to see this exhibition on 11th January 2020, I was immediately drawn to the use of colour throughout the exhibition. Matt Connors is a painter who focuses on technique and colour through abstraction. Connor’s paintings and drawings have been created through a process of layering and re-working forms extracted from his immediate environment. Matt Connors used colours, gestures, grids, framing devices and compositions in his work. While contemporary in his responses his use of materials and colouration can trigger emotional and intuitive responses. He used repetition and variations in colours and form which I relate to. I was influenced by Matt Connors and his use of layering colour and form, how he used shape with colour. I was deeply impressed by the large-scale tapestry weaving entitled Translated Union Bug on show as it represented a distinct departure away from what is traditionally known in tapestry weaving to something much more contemporary and dynamic. It was a striking with its juxtaposition of colour.

Matt Connor (2019) Translated Union Bug, Wool, Cotton and Cotton Warp, The Modern Institute

Accompanying the artists paintings and drawings, Connors first tapestry weaving stole the show. The tapestry weaving was made by the Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh. The work re-imagines his painting of the same name, but the artist shifted the scale, material and form of the source material. The colours used, their shape, their meaning and how they relate is resolved through the artists preparatory work. The layout and configuration of shape and colour has been reworked through his initial drawings and paintings to enable such resolution. The artists creative process has been helpful to see and witness first hand including his use of preparatory drawings and paintings and their translation into tapestry weaving.

Matt Connor (2019) Detail-Translated Union Bug, Wool, Cotton and Cotton Warp, The Modern Institute

The accompanying paintings and drawings were all dynamic and vibrant in their use of colour and shape. Connors acknowledged the physicality of their production-process, materiality and action with detail focused upon as in Stripes in Nature. There was acknowledgement of the drafting and reworking of mark-making with the building up of layers. The smaller scale works used a range of acrylic paint, crayon and oil on canvas in different ways. The application of acrylic and oil paint was varied across the paintings with some more like watercolours and others more akin to oils in isolation which created a range of different effects. This has encouraged me to use my source material more boldly, to experiment more with colour, shape and scale.

Matt Connor (2019) Stripes in Nature, Acrylic, Oil and Crayon on Canvas, The Modern Institute

It was interesting to see the use of canvas as part of the finished work alongside acrylic paints and crayon in Pieta. This contrasted with Stripes in Nature through the application of acrylic paint and areas were left blank which seemed to balance the painting to good effect.

Matt Connors (2019) Pieta, Acrylic and Crayon on Canvas, The Modern Institute

The scale and boldness of Bird Flying through a Tunnel was great to see in the flesh…to acknowledge that increased scale does not mean more as less can also be more with larger expanses of two single colours with black and white for dramatic effect. Through dilution and simplification more can also be seen and understood.

Matt Connors (2019) Bird Flying through a Tunnel, Acrylic on Canvas, The Modern Institute

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