Matthew Bourbon is an artist and writer. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Bourbon earned separate undergraduate degrees in Studio Art and Art History from the University of California at Davis. Relocating to New York City, Bourbon earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts. Since then, his art has been exhibited nationally and internationally.
A selection of group exhibitions include: Rodeo, Galeri Rasmus, Odense, Denmark; The Song Sings Itself, Kenise Barnes Fine Arts, Larchmont, New York; Death of a Propane Salesman: Anxiety and the Texas Artist, Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Fort Worth, Texas; Red Velvet, Rudolph Projects/Art Scan Gallery, Houston, Texas; ArtExpo 2005, Salone d'Arte Contemporanea, Trieste, Italy; London Biennale 2004, Gallery 32, London, England; and Drawing Conclusions II, New York Arts Gallery, New York, New York. Past solo exhibitions include Arch Decievers, Avis Frank Gallery, Houston, Texas; Tender Pioneers, Darke Gallery, Houston, Texas; Crass, Cruel and Uncouth, Conduit Gallery, Dallas, Texas; The Artist's Eye, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas; and True Fictions, Studio 107, Austin, Texas.
Bourbon has been nominated and won numerous awards for his work. Recently he was awarded the Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant by the Dallas Museum of Art to conduct research in Japan, and he was named an Institute for the Advancement of Art Fellow at the University of North Texas. He has also been selected twice to be included in the Texas Biennial and in New American Paintings, where his work was highlighted as a Juror's Pick. Bourbon is currently a Professor of Art at the University of North Texas' College of Visual Arts and Design. He is also an art critic and contributor to Art Forum Online, Flash Art, ArtNews, New York Arts Magazine, and Glasstire, and served for several years as the regional editor for the journal Art Lies.
My art arises from my curiosity about the different ways one can establish the language of painting. I'm fascinated with how paintings are meant to "speak." There are various placeholders in image making: the portrayal of objects or spaces, figuration, literal words, constructing patterns and all sorts of other pictorial genres that we deem more or less "real" or "abstract." These placeholders are ways for us to anchor or lose ourselves to the content or subject of a painting. Being invested in this game of fabricating relationships, I toy with a range of pictorial grammars within my paintings as a means to ask the viewer to be active (somewhat like myself) in building a connection to the painted object.
Essentially my paintings sit in an uncomfortable limbo between heady ideas and dumb form. How to paint the things of life is a chronic issue that seems somehow relevant to how to actually be in the world. I am after a kind of painting that is filled with all the contradictions one sees in everyday life. At the core of my work I offer something present and something hidden. Specifically I allow parts of my paintings to be legible while other areas remain illegible. This has to do with many things, including notions of private and public, deception and honesty, and ultimately with the elusive nature of truth. I consider the arena of painting as a kind of philosophical space where I can ponder questions about art and life.
That said, my art is never meant as mere illustration of ideas, but is instead born from the act of painting itself, colliding with my thoughts and speculations. There is a struggle to discover what the painting will be through activity and analysis. While not always foregrounded, there is also a healthy dose of the absurd, satirical or comical, in my artistic leanings. With a tradition stretching back centuries, I still endeavor to find a way for my paintings to find a place within that history and to declare things anew.