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Styrofoam Art 08.24.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Reviews.
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Don't you just want to cradle it?I was first introduced to the work of Matt Neyens at the esteemed Lighthouse Roasters here in Seattle.  Now, three years later, I have four favorite pieces hanging on my walls.  Each oil painting is a different perspective view of the same styrofoam packaging piece.

Initially what jumps out of each painting is the simple almost ‘pop’ depiction of subject.  Next, is the subject itself: styrofoam.  trash.  It is here that the work becomes deeper because the observer is faced with the questions of “Why?”

Styrofoam is not one of the more regularly depicted objects of the time (any regular visit to Etsy reveals hundreds of birds, power lines, ships, bears, wolves, trees, etc.) but it still elicits a nostalgic and emotional response.  I remember the childhood struggle to save styrofoam forms from the trash (where they never fit) through reuse; as building blocks to complement cushion forts or as massive spaces in which to deploy my Battle Beasts.  Somehow though, these big, light, clumsy objects always found their way (awkwardly) into the trash can.  I was faced with the truth that they were only good for their original use, to house the object that they contained.

Neyen’s work gives styrofoam a second respectable use, as subject.  He does so by depicting it as pure form through gray-scale planes and edges.  Variation in tint (especially in the edges) is subtle, drawing the careful observer into the work.  Looking deeper, we realize that these broad strokes that create edges must hide construction lines.  These drawings are in fact meticulously constructed in perspective.  Such construction transports his work out of the school of pop art and into something else.  Classical?  Architectural?  Perhaps both.

One thing is certain, the depth of Neyen’s catalog betrays his passion.  His work is not limited to styrofoam reproductions, nor oils.  A quick browse reveals renderings of containers, bottles, people, compact discs, and more of the most mundane everyday objects.  Artists performing this level of study are rare in today’s artistic age, where the market demands that work is made quickly so that it may be sold cheaply.  Neyen’s work is quality, and worth taking a look at.

http://mattneyens.blogspot.com/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thegreyworld/page10/

The four perspectives at home

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