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November 11, 2000 to January 7, 2001

Paul Matthews: Friends and Relations

Most artists begin their training by drawing and painting from a live model. Painters Paul Matthews and Alex Kanevsky move beyond the foundations of portrait painting -- how does light and shadow effect the painter's perception of objects and choice of color? - each from his own perfectionist's stand-point. While Matthews's and Kanevsky's approaches to portraiture are superficially similar, their end results offer an instructive study in contrasts.

While Kanevsky invites ambiguity into his small-scale compositions by basing them on digital photographs, sometimes of the subject in motion, and by deliberately using imperfect lighting conditions, Matthews, who also begins with a photographic source, delights in representing the human form with cool, even lighting and excruciating detail.

Kanevsky presents a body of new work he calls "overwhelmed portraiture" - each one by one foot in scale of people he has encountered during the summer of 2000. He describes the project as follows: "Doing multiple portraits in a relatively short period of time will derail a natural tendency to try to bring every painting to a good end. I will have to deal with a mounting number of unresolved conflicts. Hopefully, some will be spectacular failures. An unpredictable and exciting journey."

Matthews has executed many commissioned portraits over the years, though he prefers to do uncommissioned portraits of family and friends. The dilemma of portrait painting for him is "an unreasonable desire to capture the actual person on canvas" -- and the impossibility of actually doing so. "Some fusion of the artist's and sitter's personality comes through in the attempt, though; something that never existed before," the artist states. Matthews admits that his tendency is "always toward exaggeration and caricature... my true delight is to mimic, to mock, to imitate. So when I try for a likeness I miss; but when I go for the jugular it comes naturally."

Kanevsky, who is originally from Russia, attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and was a 1997 Pew Fellowship recipient. Matthews, who lives in Lambertville, NJ, and Keene, NY, has exhibited at the National Academy of Design in New York and throughout the East Coast for the past 36 years; he is a graduate of Cooper Union in New York.


Tags: painting