Review: Bobby Mathieson at Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tattlerose (Bobby Mathiseon)

The Altamont Speedway Free Festival was one of the more infamous failures in the legion of mythologized events of the late 1960s. A terribly organized mess rife with violence, death, the Hell’s Angels and lots of property damage, it became the raw material for the concert film, “Gimme Shelter.” This dark blotch on the naivety (or stupidity) of hippiedom is now being commemorated by painter Bobby Mathieson in his solo show at Neubacher Shor Contemporary.

Although the show comes mighty close to conveying what it feels like to come down off of acid – and that’s no small feat – it doesn’t get much further than that. This is part of where the trouble starts. Based on a very specific time and place, the painter tries to conjure this up using source documents which are then filtered through a colour scheme that sometimes screams of psychedelia. It’s the uneasy tension between attempting to be specific and the generalization of the feeling that makes the paintings’ success hard to gauge.

Skull Mountain (Bobby Mathieson)


On one level, with all of the figures rendered anonymous and with the barest of figurative details, it winds up being amorphous and falling into the kind of clichéd archetypal thinking that animated the event itself. This may be Mathieson’s intent, which in itself is hard to discern. The screaming colour schemes, the overtly expressionistic application of paint, don’t exactly suggest a detachment or mockery at first. When viewing them at length, however, that changes. It starts to feel like expressionism in quotation marks. The variety of his brushstrokes, dabs and blobs is limited almost to the point that it seems like a formal game. This is played out at certain points into something that resembles a frenzy of congealing paint. Things never get pushed over the edge though. Thanks to the fact that the images are all rendered with what seems like a documentarian’s anal reliance on the source material, they never shed the trace of photos completely.

ALTAMONT
runs at Neubacher Shor Contemporary until March 3.

– Matthew Purvis

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