Summer 2022 – Matthew Feyld – Rørvig Contemporary
Matthew Feyld is born in 1985 in Saskatchewan, Canada,. He lives and works in Montreal.
For more than seven years Matthew Feyld has tenaciously investigated the possibilities of a single motif, the dot. Recently the painter turned within his signature form as a way to push his work forward, first enlarging the dot to become a circle, and now dividing it into a semicircle.
To make circle paintings is, in one sense, to explore a common misreading of the dot paintings. This is because the dot, while inherently a circular form, was chosen by Feyld less because it is a type of circle, but more so as a neutral shape to serve as the matrix for his exploration of positive and negative space, presence and absence, and other dualities, with their full range of philosophical, aesthetic, and art historical resonances.
It is important to note that, seen in person, Feyld’s work is not flat, meaning thinly painted and consequently graphic in effect. Instead, the paintings are densely layered, and further, the dot(s) and the field are materially distinct from one another. For the dot, which we likely interpret as a subsequent gesture enacted upon a ground prepared before, is in fact the cultivated residue of an earlier stage in the building up of the final color field.
Because Feyld layers different hues so as to arrive at a dense, definitive color this is quite literally a remnant of an earlier moment in the work’s life. Further, the two parts of the painting are distinguished materially by consisting of (nearly imperceptibly) different levels of paint accretion.They are thus the same, materially, and yet utterly different, visually.This is the kind of simultaneity of presence and absence that Carl Andre is also speaking about in the epigraph, and which is essential to any art object’s underlying ontology as a physical presence in a space, and yet also as something that is underwritten (and thus to some degree always overwritten) by the qualities of the space in which it is exhibited—no matter how “neutral” it purports to be.
This means that our perception of a given painting is determined by the relationship between the dot and the field, but also by the fact that this relationship is further inflected by the varying density between these two essential components of the work.This distinction adds a haptic valence to the optical one presented by Feyld’s signature composition. From afar we witness a dot in relationship to a field, while from up close we examine a simultaneous presence and absence within that field. In Andre’s terms, this is the “hole in a thing it is not.” I mean this in the sense that we evaluate the dot both as an accretion of paint, and also as a visible element—and arguably the central one of the painting—and in that sense most definitely a presence. At the same time we also perceive the difference between the level of the dot and that of the field around it, making it seem as if the dot is physically bored into the field, and thus the result of a certain removal, something emphasized in many paintings by its colorless whiteness in distinction to the rich pigmentation all around.
As I have already discussed, the paintings are made up of multiple colors, layered on top of one another. In his tondos Feyld essentially blows up the dot and one can see this level of coloristic complexity, which then becomes the subject of the work, determining the experience one has of it. While not initially self-evident, this logic is one born from that of the digital screen and the way we have transposed our tactile impulses for exploring the physicality of objects by handling and inspecting them into the zooming feature of the touchscreen, which promises infinite degrees of blow up not possible to the naked eye. Comparing the diminutive size of the dots in Feyld’s canvases to that of these tondos reveals a logic of sizing up only possible in a digital age. Further, they make the wall on which they are hung into the canvas of sorts, reinterpreting and continuing the spatial investigation present in the earlier wall-spanning installations of small monochrome canvases.