Magazine article Artforum International

Matt Borruso: STEVEN WOLF FINE ARTS

Magazine article Artforum International

Matt Borruso: STEVEN WOLF FINE ARTS

Article excerpt

In his semiautobiographical 1928 novel Nadja, Andre Breton described the Parisian flea market as "an almost forbidden world of sudden parallels, petrifying coincidences, and reflexes particular to each individual, of harmonies struck as though on the piano, flashes of light that would make you see, really see." In a similar vein, Matt Borruso explored discarded objects of the recent past as sources of unexpected revelation in 'The Hermit's Revenge Fantasy," his second solo show at Steven Wolf Fine Arts. By means of cut-paper collages, pencil drawings, a two-channel video, and imagery culled from the dregs of consumer culture--schlocky album covers, old handicraft and DIY special-effects magazines, 1980s food porn--Borruso transformed the banal into the truly weird.

For most works on view, compositional energy was generated by Borruso's destabilization of boundaries demarcating animate/inanimate, nature/culture, and interior/exterior by way of such uncanny tropes as image-doubling and disconcerting shifts in scale and orientation. For example, in The Beard Label (all works cited, 2011), a forkful of glistening orange spaghetti hovers in space apparition-like, haloed by the Technicolor aura of an '80s album cover. In other collages, grotesque monsters simultaneously elicit disgust and compassion--a dualism that also pervades the artist's ultrafine Ingres-esque pencil drawings of fantastically disfigured humans, themselves composites based on found imagery. These images transgress subsectors of visual culture as well, highlighting various idioms ranging from the home knitter and the monster-makeup enthusiast to the more conventional aesthetics of commercial design and the art world. Favoring the alternative reality of the eccentric hermit, Borruso has meticulously constructed an idiosyncratic world forged from the detritus of mass culture. Refraining from merely ironic or nostalgic readings of yesteryear's kitsch, he detoumes its clicked graphics and Day-Glo hues to unearth a formal vocabulary as distinctive as the color theory of Albers or Itten.

In the context of seamless digital culture, Borruso's collages are notable both for being handmade and for their timeworn source material (indeed, the collection and archiving of vintage books, magazines, and ephemera must be a foundational aspect of the artist's process). …

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