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Danae Mattes: Alluvial Maps



Thursday, 3 November 2016 to Saturday, 3 December 2016
Thursday, 3 November 2016 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce Alluvial Maps, an exhibition of new work by Danae Mattes. Mattes’s art presents powerful, absorbing visions of landscapes that have been realized, filtered, and synthesized by the artist and then reworked onto canvas. She writes: “When walking through a landscape, I often find that a wonderful mirroring of myself takes place, as if the very act of movement becomes a gateway, an opening into perception.” Each work serves as fulcrum for the dynamic ecosystems that surround us—the continuously unfolding patterns of life we encounter visually and physically as we move through our worlds, both natural and manmade.  

With clay as their base, Mattes’s “paintings” have a distinct sculptural presence. By using the earth to conjure the earth, they also enable a more direct translation, even narration, of those elemental processes and relationships that they take as their subject. Depending upon the conditions Mattes establishes, the chosen clays interact and generate structures that are much the same as geologic formations and alluvial phenomena. Factors that shape the emergent patterns and textures include the amount of moisture introduced, the studio’s humidity and temperature levels, and the specific play of gravity Mattes initiates by periodically reorienting the canvases as they dry. 

Colored pigments in an array of blues, purples, ochers, and grays, among others, pool, flow, drip, and seep, contributing to the overall geologic effect while articulating and intensifying the sense of movement activated by the clay body. On the left side of the diptych Horizon III (2015), for example, a dark brown mass appears to hurtle down from the right, exerting a force so strong that the clay has cracked, propelling a wash of blue pigment into the lower-left quadrant with the speed of a tidal wave. The diptych’s right side shows these blue swells receding back out toward the horizon as the gravitational pull of the celestial-like body regains equilibrium, restoring calm. Across both parts of the diptych, faint rivulets rain down, grabbing an admixture of solid particles and additional pigments and bringing visibility to another layer of energy. 

Water, specifically the idea of permeability, is the lynchpin of Mattes’s landscapes. The works’ visual cues conjure watercourses, an association affirmed by titles such as Harbor, Lake Interior, and Reservoir. These are places of motion, transition, and unfolding; their physical permeability presents a touchstone for other types of access and communion. Artists throughout history have sought to harness this unifying potential of the landscape, such as the Romantic painters of the nineteenth-century, who foregrounded nature’s transcendent power and beauty. While Mattes pursues the sublime, she is also after that which we all experience: a common subtext that inflects our lives and impacts our circumstances. One therefore experiences her landscapes from the inside, not merely as an observer but as a participant who actively shapes the event.

Artist ( Description ): 

Danae Mattes was born in 1958 in Rochester, Pennsylvania. She earned her BFA from Edinboro State University in Pennsylvania in 1980 followed by her MFA from Long Beach State University in 1984. Mattes’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions, most recently “Transitory Waterscapes” at the Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. She has been commissioned to create public artworks both nationally and internationally, including an important memorial for a 1992 arson attack at Mühlenstrasse 9 in the city of Mölln, Germany. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; the San Jose Museum of Art; and the Schlossmuseum Landeck, Austria.

Venue ( Address ): 

Established by Lisa Dolby Chadwick in San Francisco in 1997, Dolby Chadwick Gallery represents an international roster of emerging and mid-career artists working in traditional and hybrid media, including oil painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and photography. The Gallery seeks to exhibit articulate, visceral, and provocative new work, and to support its artists in the development of their creative processes and visions.

Embracing a diversity of subject matter, styles that range from photorealism to abstraction, and approaches that prioritize both the aesthetic and the conceptual, the Gallery’s program focuses on works wherein the artist’s dedication to craft, observation, and materials is evident. A common thread throughout the work is an interest in exploring and redefining visual perception and optical effects—celebrating the unexpected surprise of sight and insight of visual experience.

From its first site of five years on Sutter Street, Dolby Chadwick moved to its current location at 210 Post Street in 2002. The 5,000 square-foot gallery has hosted over 155 exhibitions and curated shows. Heads, a 2011 show selected by art historian Peter Selz, comprised forty works by artists including Stephen De Staebler, Lucian Freud, Edwige Fouvry, Sherie’ Franssen, Ann Gale, Gottfried Helnwein, Alex Kanevsky, Nathan Oliveira, and Irving Petlin.

Director Lisa Dolby Chadwick has over twenty-five years of fine arts and gallery expertise and has overseen the development of more than sixteen catalogues and monographs. She co-organized the Stephen De Staebler career retrospective exhibition and monograph for San Francisco’s De Young Museum in 2012, a show cited by San Francisco Chronicle art critic Kenneth Baker as among the best of the year.

Gallery artists have been reviewed in Art in AmericaArt Ltd., ARTnewsArt PracticalARTWORKSThe Huffington Post, the Los Angeles TimesThe New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Artists have been awarded fellowships and honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Washington Arts Council, Academy of Arts & Letters, and the National Academy of Design.

Dolby Chadwick Gallery is a member of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association.

Dolby Chadwick Gallery , San Francisco

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