Special “Eye” to Watch
June Mattingly // contributing art writer
The Dallas Museum of Art’s
“Concentrations 54: Matt Connors and
Fergus Feehily” in the Hoffman Gallery
curated by Dr. Jeffrey Grove Senior Curator of Contemporary Art through August 14
As the title implies this is the 54th in the Concentrations program and the inaugural exhibit for 2011.
This marks the 30th Anniversary of Concentrations and celebrates the Dallas Museum of Art’s
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|“Cycles in Space,” 14 x 2 x 9 feet
|Matt Connors, “Primary,” 2011, oil, acrylic and colored pencil on canvas, 60 x 45 inches
|Fergus Feehily, “Into the Garden,” 2009, oil on MDF, wood, screws, 9 7/8 x 8 x 3/8 inches
|“Issues in Abstraction,” an installation of abstract expressionist works from the DMA’s collection is
adjacent to Concentrations 54 both being in the Hoffman Galleries and both curated as was
this new exhibition by Dr. Jeffrey Grove. He also recently organized the critically well-received
“Re-Seeing the Contemporary” 60 works from the DMA’s permanent collection in the Barrel
Vault. As is customary, as head of the contemporary art department Jeffery oversees its
exhibitions, programming, publications and acquisitions.
|“Charcoal Loops 5’ x 6 x 1 feet
|Concentrations 54 in fact fills two separate gallery spaces creating two definitely superb
and stirring side-by-side exhibitions by two young virtually unknown artists, the New York–
based American Matt Connors (born 1973) and the Berlin-based Irish Fergus Feehily (born
1968). Though close in age and artistic temperament they were educated and live oceans
apart. Abstract paintings have been produced by thousands of artists in styles ranging
from expressionism to minimalism; what brings these two to notice is their pursuit of total
and true abstraction using original approaches. Amazingly, neither exchanged thoughts
or “dialogue” before “beautifully” being brought together to show their art in this their
first US museum participation.
|Jeffrey wisely noted that Connors’s “work had its beginnings as an interrogation of abstraction
and has evolved quickly toward a more nuanced exploration of the mimetic capacity of
painting and the possibilities of painting as object. His work has a remarkable fluidity and
encompasses references to poetry, music, and film as well as modern painting styles. The
structure and presentation of the canvas—and what contains it––seems to interest Connors
as much as the work itself. Matt’s paintings upend expectations and offer surprises. His
interest in the experience that unfolds in the act of painting—accidents, discoveries,
and premeditated actions colliding as he orchestrates compositions—defines an
approach at once open, quizzical, and evolutionary.”
About Feehily’s work, Jeffrey easily explains his “paintings explore a long-term preoccupation
with blurring boundaries between non-representation and image, and text and drawing.
Feehily creates intimate works that, for the most part, are not paint on canvas but a
combination of manufactured materials including MDF (fiberboard), wood, paper, and
cloth, which he composes through the techniques of drawing, collage, bricollage, and
assemblage ... Feehily’s paintings have been described as “gentle,” ‘poetic,’ ‘dreamy,’
and ‘fragile,’ qualities distinctly at odds with the tenor of much contemporary painting …
modest in scale yet generous in ambition … In fact, they have a determined presence
somehow at odds with their modest scale.”
Since 1981, one of the goals of the Dallas Museum of Art’s Concentrations is to present
the work of living artists and in the process to serve as their first in-depth museum
exhibition. To the present these exhibits featured over twenty emerging contemporary
artists plus over 65 established artists.
|Chronologically, now Texas stars* honored in Concentrations and the short-lived
Encounters series (pairing a Texas and non-Texas artist) start off with Ann Stautberg and
Andrea Rosenberg in 1981, Al Souza in 1982, Luis Jimenez in 1985, Nic Nicosia in 1986,
Vernon Fisher and Bert Long in 1988, Gael Stack in 1989, Max Neuhaus in 1990, Harry
Geffert in 1991, Doug MacWithey in 1993, Rachel Hecker in 1995, Patrick Faulhaber in
1998, Annette Lawrence in 2000 and John Pomara in 2001.
Artists of international reputations* in these two series include: Deborah Butterfield, Richard
Long, Jenny Holzer, Gunther Forg, Pat Steir, Mary Lucier, Peter Fischli/David Weiss, Kiki Smith,
Per Kirkeby, Mariko Mori, Doug Aitken, Shirin Neshat, Jane and Louise Wilson, Matthew
Ritchie, Damien Hirst, Peter Halley and Willie Doherty.
*This is a small selection of artists in both categories and is definitely not to be considered all
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