By combining techniques from both the painting studio and the darkroom, the American artist creates his characteristic photographic prints. People isolated in otherworldly surroundings inhabit works of dreamy volatility and hazy intimacy. These will be shown with other new bodies of work: delicate oil paintings on chiffon and drawings made with photochemistry directly on photosensitive paper.
The printed works come into existence as a synthesis of photography and painting. These photographic prints are made without the use of a camera, but by making paintings in negative. As unique works are developed by letting light shine through the painted materials, this technique is extraordinary because the painting is not the end-product, but rather a step along the way.
The process is a dialogue between photography and painting – a reciprocity where one only can materialize because of the other. The transformation from one medium to another requires the artist to cede control, and in this moment, the work is susceptible to incidental distortion. Through this organic translation, the work gains a natural appearance, since the various imperfections, flaws and blurred outlines contribute to a materiality which did not exist beforehand.
It is crucial for Matt Saunders that the creative process contains an element of uncertainty. Compared to the original image, the final copy of a copy has a considerably different expression, as the added element of visual indeterminacy gives each work a particular open-endedness. Fluctuating between abstract and figurative, the motif reaches the surface; a person emerges in an indistinct place, abandoned. Akin to the illuminated void in x-ray images, the people in these works are bathed in light that somehow flows through them. We witness a fragment of a narrative, but the missing part is unknowable, irretrievable. One of the key factors in our perception of the world is that, once in a while, we approach things in a different manner than we are used to. The expressive re-rendering found in the works of Matt Saunders is one way to achieve this; our sensibility is recalibrated, and hitherto unknown aspects come to light.