To seek out the failings of an image seems like a curious choice of action for an artist. But Matthys Gerber is no ordinary painter. The Sydneysider (who has born in the Netherlands and has lived in Denmark) is the subject of a comprehensive exhibition that is currently being staged at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney. The show is his most extensive Australian one to date and it is something that will challenge and tantalise your visual cortex.

Gerber is very much a post-modern artist who succeeds at appropriating and drawing the best elements out of other individual’s art and music as well as adding his own unique twist to things. The exhibition features 34 of his paintings and one sculpture and these are laid out around a square room with another small interior alcove. It is probably easiest to describe the things that set these artworks apart rather than what draws them together, because Gerber is a dynamic and creative individual who is very experimental with his techniques and approach.

The works can only be described as featuring a vast array of contrasting styles. On the one hand you might have a bog-standard textual art piece like “Let It Be Me”, an acrylic on canvas that references a lyric by the Everly Brothers. On the other hand we have works that feature geometric shapes, hard lines and abstraction. There is also his take on indigenous art with “Schoon #2” a tip to Maori art styles while “Bush Flower” looks like an indigenous, Australian dot painting until you release that Gerber has hidden the Frank Zappa quote “We’re only in it for the money” rather cheekily in the background.

Numerous things influence Gerber, from popular music to commercial design through to avant-garde works and traditional and indigenous paintings. A frequently recurring theme in Gerber’s work is that of the Rorschach blots (inspired by the inkblot, psychological test) and the doubling up or mirroring of things on the canvas. It is really apparent that this artist is quite happy to take a back-seat and allow the person viewing his work to make their own assumptions and inferences rather than being painfully obvious.

The MCA’s Matthys Gerber exhibition is a heady mix of structure and chaos from an artist that can only be described as the ultimate shape-shifter. He challenges you to view things in a different way by offering up works that are full of variances; from the speed of his brushstrokes to colour, structure, shape, etc. Matthys Gerber is a talented artist and his MCA exhibition celebrates his unique and creative brand of experimentalism.


Originally published on 28 September 2015 at the following website:

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