Horse(play) and Seen Outside
Beginning in February
Open daily 10 am-5 pm
This presentation brings together two continuing series of paintings by Matt Rogers—a painter who lives and works in St. Helena.
Horse(play) conveys the speed, cadence, agility, and power of horses in motion. Pulled from the observation of polo matches, horse races, equestrian competition, and simply horses at work or rest on farms, the paintings and drawings capture equine mechanics and vigor through less conventional imagery. In what he chooses to present or to exclude, his paintings are not simple, literal renditions of horses. Specificity and exactitude are not his intention. Much detail about the horse, the setting, the riders are cropped out of the paintings. Focus occurs on a discreet area that conveys the immediacy of the action.
Adding to the energy of the works of art are the dynamic points-of-view from which Rogers positions the viewer. An observer is situated at vantage points almost at or below hoof-level. Placed extremely close to the action, one can imagine the sounds of hooves striking the ground, the animals rapid breathing rapidly, and human voices commanding their movements that would accompany the scene. Though not reliant on photographs as a starting point, these compositions often bear the influence of photography or a film still, not only in their palette of primarily shades of black and white, but also in their replication of the foreshortening and blurred motion or illusionary effects created in a photographic image. In Rogers' body of work, it is easy to recall Eadward Muybridge's groundbreaking photographs from 1878 of a horse at trot and later at gallop, proving that all four feet of a horse were off the ground during those gaits.
The paintings from the Seen Outside series offer imaginary settings deeply informed by his life experiences and places of residence. Though abstracted from the impressions of actual places, each composition is suffused with its own story. From the fire in the Oakland firestorm of 1991 and a neighbor's encounter with a mountain lion to the familiarity of Lake Tahoe and vistas allowed solely through air travel, the whimsical scenes belie actual and often serious events important to the painter. Pictorial elements found within the paintings are also often symbols or "representives" for people, places, or events; trees, oftentimes pink in color, found in groups of three refer to his three daughters. With exaggerated and altering perspectives, forceful and unorthodox color choices, dynamic shifts of scale, Rogers' vision is uniquely his own. His visual language in which the stories are told creates delightful yet engaging man-made landscapes.
Born and raised in Oakland, Matt Rogers received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1995. He and his family live in St. Helena.