Freedoms and Pleasures: On Matt Wilson

The fascination of memory occurs in specific places. It becomes grounded to a home, a landscape, a pickup truck, a motel; and while it is always hovering in the ether one can quickly emerge in the form of a kindred spirit. Like a star appearing at dusk or your vision as you step out into the sun from a dark room, it is something that is always there and can be issued from concealment. Matt Wilson’s photographs depict these moments as his past is always informing the present. His notions of space and place, landscape, identity, personal history, and memory all translate as different kinds of pleasures and freedoms.

As Wilson travels to lose himself and to find himself out of the way, he makes photographs of family, friends, locals, strangers, beer drinkers, boxers, landscapes, alleyways and nearly every vagary that exists. The work has neither beginning nor end, existing as a photographic collective, amassing over time. Chromogenic prints from 35mm negatives, Wilson’s photographs are their own kind. The colors, at times, appear creamy through a pleasing grain; the tint of dreams. Each image feels transitory, as though it recently surfaced and could at any moment dissolve before your eyes. So is the case with memories and our attempts to make them last, yet Wilson keeps the impressions of his past close to him and embraces a peripatetic life with mystery and a pensive rhythm.

In This Place Called Home, he returns to a sequence of English sites: Wallpapered rooms, farmlands, nocturnal scenes, and faces – profiles and silhouettes in windows, in conversation, and turned away. His newer Untitled US works (with a strong presence in the mid/southwest), are still a mapping of his history, but exist in a remote and mythic present. Images of gas stations, horses, salvage yards, mesas, facades, and noctilucent skies; places where nothing happens, but also where everything happens.

Photographs from Untitled US or No Hablar Con Touristas (images from Cuba) are not a departure from This Place Called Home because all of Wilson’s images are within a light of the familiar and the transgressive. Though the newer work depicts supposed strangers or people he has came to know in passing, they have the companionability of ghosts; doppelgängers of those featured in Home. A girl swings upon a tire in the warm afternoon, her floral print billowing in her sway, and then reappears in Picacho, left hand concealing her face, right hand raised, her dress still in bloom.

Matt Wilson’s first major solo show will be held in Paris at Galerie Filles du Calvaire, exhibiting new works from his series, No Hablar Con Touristas. Dates to be announced.