KHFA exhibition archives

Thousand Year View

New paintings by Matthew Bourbon
October 8–November 19, 2022
Reception Saturday, October 8, 5:00–7:00 pm
Artist will be in attendance
Gallery hours on opening day noon–7:00

Statement from the artist:

This new group of paintings is a continuation of my efforts to streamline my work without giving up on an interior complexity. In each artwork I am interested in rendering something simple that can yet hold many associations and potential avenues of exploration. The central object is referent to many things, such as the human body, landscape, architecture, and industrial and handmade objects. The paintings are fragments of experience that are corralled within the basic shapes portrayed.

Equatorial Head

Essentially my art is driven by a recognition of the limits of our understanding. In most cases, I think we are too certain of our thoughts and beliefs. We act as if we have a thousand-year view, but our perspective is actually quite narrow, filled by the particularities of our fallible opinions and personal histories. In recognition of this propensity to believe our thoughts are accurate and sacrosanct, I begin each new painting with a healthy dose of not knowing. The creation of the initial shapes that I render, the methods of applying paint, and the mood of the paintings is found in process. After a few opening marks I feel pulled to lead the paintings toward something felt or thought. There is a call and response between what I intend and what actually happens on the surface.

In brief, I make my art not to tell things, but instead to find something; to build up a relationship to the painting that feels necessary and expansive. There is a famous Buddhist story about two monks in conversation that feels emblematic of what these paintings are for me.

"A monk named Hogen, who had spent years traveling around China, doing hard Zen practice but never quite finding what he was looking for returns and has the following discussion with his teacher:

Master Jizo asked Hogen, 'Where have you come from?'

'I pilgrimage aimlessly,' replied Hogen.

'What is the matter of your pilgrimage?' asked Jizo.

'I don't know,' replied Hogen.

'Not knowing is the most intimate,' remarked Jizo.

At that, Hogen experienced great enlightenment."

To "not know" seems the space from which we can directly encounter the world, less encumbered by our own preconceived thoughts and ideas. I try and meet my paintings in this manner—with fresh eyes and an unvarnished wonder. I hope you will too.

Being Sadness Head