Exhibition | Matthew Grabelsky: Passengers | Contemporary Art at Dorothy Circus Gallery | London | Art Week

Matthew Grabelsky: Passengers

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Date: 
Thursday, 5 December 2019 to Sunday, 5 January 2020
Opening: 
Thursday, 5 December 2019 - 6:30pm

Dorothy Circus Gallery is proud to present the first European solo exhibition by the American artist Matthew Grabelsky.

With a BA in Art and Art History and a BS in Astrophysics, both obtained cum laude from Rice University in Houston, Matthew Grabelsky is a contemporary hyperrealist painter known for his unique and amusing imagery. For his first European show, Grabelsky will showcase a brand new series of 5 paintings and 4 oil studies.

For the artist, science is the best filter through which we can see reality, but art is the preferred means of expression. Looking at his mythological creatures it’s not hard to see why; since the first time Grabelsky started to turn the people he met in the New York subway into animals, his artistic research and technique became more and more meticulous and detailed.

Looking at Grabelsky’s paintings, the artist’s inquiring eye seems to overlap with that of the viewer, as if they were sharing the same sharpness and obsession with every detail and every strand of animal fur.

In a previously unseen series of paintings and works on paper, the artist will change old assumptions on the human nature and society, which cannot always be dichotomous. Can technology be held accountable for our isolation? If we were not always occupied with our smartphones in our hands, would it possible to imagine ourselves looking upwards and towards  “subway neighbour”?

In recent years, a famous photo, taken between the 50s and the 60s in an anonymous subway wagon, portraying all the passengers reading a newspaper everyone by himself, has made its comeback as the epitome of the antisocial drift we are experiencing, apparently because of our extensive use of smartphones.

With similar irony, Grabelsky’s depicts in his works a slice of our common every-day life, made up with hundreds, if not thousands, of replicable but unrepeatable moments, in which observing our surroundings becomes a work of art. This, if elaborated upon with an attentive eye and imaginative mind, can reconnect us with a society that is in peril, swallowed up by a system that wants us to be isolated and hypnotised.

Charmingly awkward in their hybrid bodies, Grabelsky’s characters encourage and stimulate our curiosity towards the other, promoting tolerance, acceptance and self-identification in their animal-like features.

Equally powerful is the artist’s reference to the state of captivity imposed on wild animals such as tigers, crocodiles, lions, to name a few. The message is emphasised further by the seemingly forced docile behaviour of the animal-human character caused by confined public spaces such as that of the underground. By achieving a pictorial result that is real and yet surreal at the same time, the artists hopes to invite the viewer to stop and reflect on our self-imposed captive condition within our contemporary society. 

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Matthew Grabelsky is a Los Angeles-based artist who combines a hyperrealistic painting technique with a surreal penchant for unlikely juxtapositions. Raised in New York City, Grabelsky uses its subway’s underground world as the setting for his unlikely pairings.

Grabelsky depicts quasi-mythological human hybrids with animal heads, often nonchalantly reading magazines or newspapers. Fascinated by the persistence of animal imagery in mythology and communal cultural imaginaries, Grabelsky superimposes its presence onto his depictions of the contemporary world. For the artist, the animal becomes a manifestation of the inner workings of the hidden subconscious, ultimately revealing the latent identities and motivations lurking beyond the composure of the human mask.

Technically inspired by 19th Century academic and naturalist painters, Grabelsky creates these unlikely, surreal scenes with a staggering degree of realistic detail. The contrast created between the visual verisimilitude of the works, and the surreal improbability of their content catches the viewer in a prolonged moment of convincingly suspended disbelief.

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+44 75 519 2914

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35 Connaught Street, W22AZ

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