Matthew Bliss, Red Wall with High Square Window, 2000, brass, copper, solder and sanded window glass, oil paint, 8 x 6 x 2 inches. Photographs by James Dee. All images courtesy of the artist.
“Take me back, take me way way way back …”
These miniature sculptures have the look of prehistoric plumbing devices, they’re so low technology. Assembled, welded, hammered, painted, cursed, dented and reworked over long periods of time, their colors become burnished and caked; the forms are found at the eleventh hour. Just like Pierre Bonnard, Matthew Bliss never lets go; he is unremitting. There’s no mistaking his artifacts for jewelry. And as in a Bonnard, a flash of preciousness gives way to a low level blast, a palpable discontent. Wrestling to hold their own, Bliss’s artifacts keep elbowing forward, accosting us like the Manchester soccer fans who like to head butt the rest of Europe. Tough-minded little guys. The meaning? Not much helps us here. There are no wall labels. Just the remains of what passed the test, that narrow glimpse of reality. Light and weight transformed by the visible traces of a hand at work. For an instant I’m considering the mind of another—struggling to put a form in space, my space. That’s all that’s here, and it’s dazzling.