Matthew Picton, a British artist who now lives in Ashland, is the kind of guy who pays unusually close attention to the surfaces of everyday environments. He then extracts the information he finds useful and pleasing, and painstakingly reconstructs his findings for viewers--out of cake sprinkles, double-sided tape, and plastic beads. This week he opens his second show at Mark Woolley Gallery, with plenty of wall-based, colored-acrylic sculptural drawings. In past exhibitions, Picton derived his imagery from subway and bus routes of international cities. With these linear patterns, he reproduced each one with acrylic spheres, using up to 16,000 tiny beads per piece. The results look like wall drawings that sometimes bleed onto the floors and crawl around corners, but are actually meticulous, compulsive assemblages.
For his last show at Woolley, Picton created a series of sensuous abstract "drawings" using only double-sided foam tape. The artist selected industrial spaces whose facades he found beautiful, and with near collaborative reverence, made something of a shadow drawing from these buildings. He would select a small area of color, then cover that space with the double sided tape. When the tape was removed, it bore witness to the colors and surfaces of the original site. When the tape was laid out to form a complete image, beautiful abstract paintings appeared. Another series of Picton's found the artist creating expansive drawings based on the cracks in pavement--sprawling lattice work of spidery graphite.
An entire generation of artists these days are obsessing over the surfaces of things--"finish fetish," they're calling it. Normally I find these works terribly depressing, because the artists seem exclusively devoted to producing the shiniest surfaces possible, masturbating over their materials, without any regard for content. Picton is a refreshing exception because of his thoughtfulness and his unique reinterpretations of the everyday world. His new show at Woolley promises to include more sprawling work with acrylic beads and site-specific installation, with a few surprises to keep us on our toes. CHAS BOWIE