On Thursday, September 13th, Las Vegas-based artist Matthew Couper presented new artworks at ALIOS in downtown Las Vegas. The ‘one-night only preview’ featured 14 unstretched oil paintings on canvas, a similar number of corresponding incised scrimshaw teeth and a Biombo maquette. ArtsVegas is pleased to present photographs from the opening and reviews from those in attendance.
When I look at the work of Mathew Couper I am consistently impressed by both his skill as a painter and his dialog with the audience. He’s created a visual lexicon that is intricate yet identifiable, that speaks of alienation, commerce, and identity wrapped within innumerable historical and sociological symbols, confirming his status as one of Las Vegas’ most interesting visual artist. The only thing I dislike about this show is that it wont be available to discerning audiences for a longer period of time.
Matthew Couper’s Art show was a real treat to see in the spacious gallery on Main Street. Each painting had layers of hidden messages, haunting surreal characters and even some Vegas landmarks. The works were tied together with layers of technical detailing, showing currency and numeric codes. One of my favorite pieces was a series of small wooden sculptures made to look like whale teeth, each with an intricate drawing on it. The artist was very friendly and answered questions about his work while signing his beautifully designed books onsite. This was one of those art shows that you walk in and need to take 3 or 4 laps around, looking at the paintings several times just to process the work and savor it all.
His style of combining renaissance painting in Spanish retablos with contemporary subjects like Alf or Aliens are very interesting points of view in relationship with mass media characters.
I’m sad that the show was only up for one night because I think his work is something that would appeal to other painters in Las Vegas. There is a heaviness to the work that is then balanced with humor/slight sarcasm. I especially like his style of painting. I could tell that the message and symbolism in his work are more important than technique not to say that the aesthetic side of the paintings were not thought out, but their is a great amount of information to put together. Actually, it was obvious to me that everything was very thought out and intentional from the turpentine drips that gave it a raw feeling and an air of unimportance to the precision in the placement of the symbols and the finesse of the minute fly and flower details.
We might find ease in the world if we were better students and more familiar with a symbol set that might define it. But what if our pleasure in deciphering a fixed cosmology is frustrated? The more clearly we read the narrative the more bleak are our promised prospects.
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.