Employing a refined method in which his gloved hands, rags and masking tape upstage brushes as his primary tools, Matthew Dennison gives us sharply-defined regions of bright color and surfaces coated in wavelike strokes of shimmering, glossy varnish. The works in Physical Verse differ in subject from dignified portraits of animals, cryptic human faces and narrative scenes.
Working though a self-imposed discipline in which he writes one poem and executes one drawing each day, Matthew often meditates on the fragility of life, nature and society. He refers to “places of placelessness”- homogenous locations such as big box retail stores and malls that are so culturally nonspecific that they could be anywhere. The animals he depicts- a prancing stag with a green head; a serene-looking yellow goat; a bicolored caribou- often exude a palpable spark of intelligence while his people seem glassy-eyed, dazzled. A series of 18 works within this exhibit consists of small portraits painted on old book covers, carefully peeled off and affixed to handmade, whitewashed window-like frames. While not depicting specific individuals, he compiles interesting or odd characteristics he sees on a daily basis while working in downtown Portland. These strange, endearing characters are an extension of his love for the beauty in imperfection, a wonderfully skewed reimagining of a contemporary ideal.