Daina Mattis | Vessels
October 11 - November 11, 2018
High Noon Gallery, New York, NY
HIGH NOON is proud to present Daina Mattis’ first solo exhibition with the gallery, Vessels. The title, aptly chosen for the word’s versatility reflects on the themes explored in Mattis’ most recent body of work--- containment, possession, consumption, and the perceptual shifts that occur at their intersections. Vessels are utilitarian; they are ships that maneuver through water, or containers which hold liquid. Vessels can be a shelter or a prison. Our bodies are vessels, and within them, they contain blood vessels. In Mattis’ exhibition, she doesn’t clearly distinguish between the practical versus abstract definitions of the term, but rather creates formal scenarios with a surrealist twist to inspire non-linear connections while remaining decidedly without narrative. The work embraces humor while demanding to be taken seriously--- full of double entendre, but never a one-liner.
Vessels consists of both painting and sculpture, using domestic culture as a launch pad from which she constructs conduits between form and perception, facilitating a middle-ground dialogue. The larger paintings in the exhibition depict faux versions of marble painted atop linen mounted to panel. In each composition is a realistically painted decorative element of a household interior, altering the viewer to the realization that not only are these paintings imitations of marble slabs, they are also paintings of spaces in homes. The interior structures appear as accessories to the larger space the faux marble wall occupies, atop which are different test swatches of different paint colors--- blues or cool neutrals--- rolled on in a seemingly haphazard fashion as one does when exploring color options. In all of the paintings, however, in a form perfectly imitating the gesture of the test spots is a swatch of pure linen from beneath the painting, bringing into the foreground the structure under the illusion (no, it’s not drywall).
In another group of smaller paintings, Mattis paints luscious skies in various stages of the day. What would otherwise be a beautiful rendering of a sky-scape, at first bearing homage to Tiepolo, becomes Vegas hotel-style cheese with the inclusion of a ceiling sprinkler-head, once again introducing the meta concept of a trompe-l’oeil within a trompe-l’oeil. Similar to the marble works, a section of the painting is taped off to expose the linen beneath, slyly addressing the element of art’s physicality. Art as an object is confined by the containment of a picture plane. The walls and ceilings of our domestic spaces become receptacles as well, of safety, of opulence.
A native of Los Angeles, Mattis notes, “From almost anywhere I roamed in LA, the skyline was shared by both the Griffith Park Observatory and the Hollywood Sign. Both pinnacle icons for show-biz, yet ironically one deals in science and the other in
fabrication. Existing for different objectives, they both rely on optics and perception.”
Within this vein, Mattis created a sculptural work entitled Lap Pool out of steel and fiberglass, combining two relics from bygone eras, the TV dinner tray and the fiberglass pool. When this method of producing swimming pools saw it’s invention at the end of the 1940s, it ushered in the first boom of privately owned pools in backyards, and consumption of luxury goods for Americans was at an all time high. In Lap Pool, we see vanity, history, and entitlement fold into the works via process, scale, and domestic space.
Further expanding on this consumptive idea of high culture at low cost, Mattis has paired the sculpture with an installation display of individual serving-sized pasta packets filled with handmade Louis Vuitton shaped pasta. Individually sealed, the pasta packets sit displayed as you might see in a designer store, extraordinarily expensive and highly replicated goods presented to be more precious than their utilitarian function. Mattis’ pasta is in fact handmade, laboriously pushed individually through a delicate mold reflecting each aspect of the famous pattern. While actual alphabet pasta is very cheap while still providing basic sustenance, this pasta is far more expensive and meant for a different kind of consumption. Throughout carefully selected and crafted media and modalities, Mattis consistently addresses the trajectory of our cultural norms and the social superstructures contained within.