Wow, Matthew Eickhoff scores big with these new paintings at Indie Indy Artist Colony. His cover story is that he's replicating these key moments in Super Bowl history, and yes, he does that. These paintings will rightly be appreciated on that level, but there's so much more to these.
The painting execution is shockingly similar to the very moments depicted. The paint handling has a frenzied casualness to it, where years of training and experience come together in one revisionless moment. His process seems to be one of pure momentous inspiration; of moving forward without question or doubt.
These works are carefully planned, with dynamic compositions and interesting, rather high contrast color schemes. From a distance they read as very solid, almost conventional, depictions. But Matthew also takes these works on a rather courageous and raucous paint ride, and this becomes apparent when one views them close-up. The entire dimensional illusion breaks apart into abstract areas of varying surface treatments. It is all very dynamic, chaotic, and visually stimulating. Out of this melee one starts noticing areas and figures which are startingly distorted. These are not calculated, intentional distortions, nor do they occur from ineptitude. They are something else. They are truthful distortions; they honor an intense moment in paint. These distortions reveal the soaring ego-less innovations that process painting can sometimes yield, on a good day, after years of practice, if you're lucky, and have been a very good lad.
This is why painting is so exciting. It is capable of so much. The flip side is that the best that painting has to offer, is usually not readily comprehensible. I don't fully understand these moments, even in my own work.. I love that there is always more there, than I will ever fully understand.
The amazing potential of painting also makes it very difficult to critique. Recently the Nuvo reviewers gave this show, and another painting show, devasting reviews. Many commentors championed this new audacious approach to reviews. The thing is, in each case it was a show where the artist “scored manna”, in painting terms. Some of these works had truly exceptional moments, and showed intriguing developmental leaps forward for these artists. This was a moment for celebration, for both the artist and the viewer. Often there are not a lot of tangible rewards for being an Indianapolis artist. The goodie bag for explorative painters is particularly sucky here. We kind of live for great moments in paint, because it's all we really get. I am disturbed at how a misinformed review may tarnish these rare artistic highlights. I'd rather indulge 10 unmerited favorable reviews, than risk one unmerited bad one. It's simply too devastating when we artists so often get no other real rewards.
To be very clear: I'm not saying go easy on us painters. I'm not saying everyone is an ignorant doofus who can't possibly get it. I'm saying it's often very difficult for someone with a generalist knowledge of art to get the more profound stuff in painting, on those rare occasions when it happens. It's difficult for us who are deeply engrossed in it to understand it.
If you are going to harshly bash someone's work, please make sure your assessment is informed.
That is all....
Oh yeah, one more day to see Matthew's show. Saturday hours are 12-5, I'd call first.