Artist whose work was shown at MoMA returns home for Baton Rouge exhibit

“Tide” by Matt Kenyon. (Images courtesy Baton Rouge Gallery)

Matt Kenyon hasn’t touched a canvas in a long time.

“It was a strange kind of flashback, even just the tactile part of it,” says the renowned artist, educator and TED fellow. This month, he is adding Baton Rouge Gallery to his resume of exhibition galleries—and the first in his hometown of Baton Rouge.

The “tactile part” he’s referring to is the canvas-stretching process he used on a selection of three paintings to prepare them for display at the Baton Rouge Gallery’s “Cloudburst” exhibition. The display comprises about a dozen works in a variety of mediums from throughout his career, touching on subjects ranging from housing insecurity to climate change. There’s even an installation called “Tide,” which was inspired in part by the flooding that devastated the Capital Region in 2016. As for the paintings, they come from his time as an undergrad at Southeastern Louisiana University, when he still “very much identified with being a painter”—an identity he’s since outgrown, and an era he hasn’t revisited in some time.

For an artist to display paintings might not seem particularly unique. But for Kenyon, who for the past two decades has favored tools like coding, engineering, data mining, mathematics and biomechanics to the traditional brush and canvas, those three paintings form what he calls a kind of “miniretrospective” of his work before he found his groove as an artist.

“We’re always moving fast and thinking of the next thing,” he says. “To have a moment to kind of reflect, personally, has been pretty moving.”

Each of Kenyon’s works is some combination of physical metaphor, performance art, social critique and subversive civil disobedience.

That proclivity for the novel and unexpected has earned Kenyon a permanent seat at the vanguard of contemporary art. His works have graced the Museum of Modern Art in New York; ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (in Germany); and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, to name just a few places, and have even been featured in The New York Times. But for all his heavyweight acclaim, Kenyon says he maintains a “complicated relationship with prestige.”

Read the full story about Kenyon from 225 magazine. Subscribe to the free 225 Daily e-newsletter for more Baton Rouge arts and events.

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