Matthias Düwel at Martha Otero

The concept of an exhibition being perfect for a summertime setting might too easily be misinterpreted as a slight. It is not. The paintings and drawings by Matthias Düwel currently on display at Martha Otero Gallery capture the high key color and sartorial swing that does indeed seem suited for the ratatattat of August. If Düwel’s paintings were clothing they would be a seersucker suit. If they were a cocktail, they’d be a sloe gin fizz. If they were a dessert, they’d be a baked Alaska. Or maybe a shaved ice with some Tiger’s Blood syrup.

Matthias Düwel, Airstream, 2010, Oil on Panel, 24 x 24 inches

Matthias Düwel draws on a sensational skill set. It’s refreshing to see a palpable gift put to such interesting use. The color palette is cacophonous and jubilant. The swirls and twists of color index the folds and gyrations of a large lollipop of pulled molten sugar while never becoming literal. The optical enchantment complete, the composition then offers detail and narrative that augments and completes a truly satisfying visual experience.

Matthias Düwel, Trains, 2011, Oil on Panel, 24 x 24 inches

In a roughly two thirds/one third ratio, Düwel divides the picture plane between curvilinear and rectilinear structure. For the most part, the curves dominate and hover over an urban landscape of edges and points. This landscape recedes in a planar perspective. Conversely the loops of invented form and color come toward you up and over the landscape. Upon close examination the lower angular forms snap into buildings and air-streams and trains. The looping curves of color bear no such concrete referent. Your eye moves across the square picture plane with accelerations and tango-like syncopation. Seeing these paintings is an active optical experience. There doesn’t seem to be single visual cul-de-sac in the retinal paths he leads the viewer on.

Matthias Düwel, Untitled #3, 2012, Watercolor pencils & Gouache on Paper, 8 x 13 inches

In two recent works on paper Düwel suggests a less all over patternation with the paper showing through in the corners of these color pencil and gouache works. The restraint suggests greater dread of one world imposing on the other. And off screen space is activated more in these works on paper than the oil on panel pieces in the exhibition.

What are we to make of paintings that are so blatantly joyous? But wait, is that a nipple? And a house? An eye? A spaceship? There’s a lot going on and just when you think you’ve got it, a painting reveals more. And that’s what you make of it! These are not only boisterous compositions but they are generous over time as well. Düwel has fashioned an iconography of both style and content that charms immediately and resonates over time.

Matthias Düwel at Martha Otero continues through August 29th, 2012

-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, August 20th, 2012

also by Mario M. Muller

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