Charles Matton. (Reviews: New York)

Article excerpt

FORUM GALLERY

Charles Matron makes architecture and puts it in boxes. Ranging, in this show, from under two feet to nearly three feet high and seen through the boxes' glass fronts, the meticulously detailed sets are sometimes based on real places, such as the Vienna office of Sigmund Freud, and other times are imagined and somewhat fantastic. The artist's studio is a recurring theme; whatever the case, the scenes are antique in mood. According to Barbara Krulik, author of the exhibition's catalogue essay, Matton has been "profoundly influenced" by Rembrandt, and there is little in these works to suggest the twentieth century, let alone the twentyfirst. Even when Matton bows to a modem artist, he chooses a realist painter--Edward Hopper--and depicts an empty, unfurnished, unrenovated New York loft, an interior basically from the nineteenth century. A canvas leaning against one of the walls and a little pile of newspaper, some plaster debris, and old shoes in the middle of the floor are the only signs of life. The Hopperesqu e quality implied by the work's title (New York City Loft: Homage to Edward Hopper, 2002) is in the quietly desolate emotional tone and its contrast with the rich yellowish light, which not only fills the little room but is embodied as a sequence of golden panes-the windows and their penumbrue-across the space. Yet despite the New York locale, the effect is less modernist than old master.

Matton is apparently quite well known in his native France. Age sixty-nine, he exhibited briefly in Paris galleries forty years ago, then worked for Esquire magazine and in book publishing while making art in private. He reemerged as an artist in 1983 and has since shown consistently in Paris, though never before in New York. With the exception of a group of entries by Jean Baudrillard, his bibliography is light on art-critical or theoretical writing and heavy on newspapers and mass-circulation magazines--Le Figaro, Le Monde, the International Herald Tribune, Paris Match, Vogue Decoration, French Rolling Stone. …