One of the most recognizable qualities to Matthew Sievers’ artwork is how he handles paint. He adeptly and harmoniously blends detail and abstraction as well as mixes bright, vivid colors with quieter passages. This results in compositions unique to his experiences and interests as an artist. They are works that seamlessly exhibit alongside one another regardless of whether it’s a rural or city scene. May 28 through June 9, Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will mount the show Seeing through a Painted Veil with new work by Sievers.
The title of the show relates to how the artist paints as well as to memories and perception. He says, “I want any of my themes, when viewed, to be relatable to the viewer. It’s not crisp or sharp.” They are reminders of places people have been. Sievers continues, “I like to have areas of the painting hidden underneath a veil of paint. I may paint something very detailed then scrape paint right over it where just a hint of that is coming through. Those things really speak to me.”
Those techniques are something that Sievers has always explored in his artwork, but when he read John Seed’s book Disrupted Realism: Paintings for a Distracted World he began thinking about a bigger picture. “The main thing I saw reading through some of those articles—also relating to it—is that the current way we take in imagery through Pinterest or Instagram is a very fleeting moment,” he says. “We see something beautiful, and we recognize it’s beautiful, but are sliding to see the next image. That blur and saving things for later, you can bring that into an oil painting that you’ll look at forever. It’s an almost twisty movement that speaks to us, where you’re getting the beauty but also movement and memory.”
Building the layers in his work, Sievers includes bold scrape marks that act as a background, as well as elegant calligraphy marks that combine on the canvas. He says, “Most of my work now, the colors that you’re seeing are actually a color that’s underneath and completely dry with a thin layer over the top. The eye mixes the two, so you’re seeing a veil of paint to get the color that I was going for.”
Sievers’ work is united by the technique and building of atmosphere, but the subjects can often seem disparate. He is known for his tree portraits that represent the family tree, as well as beautiful barn scenes, but also ventures into painting bright sunsets and cityscapes. Works such as Late Show and New York Haze were inspired by trips to New York City, while Night Light is an evening scene of a barn that focuses on the excitement of light.
Warm Light, Cold Air has a different color palette than most, with shades of grays, browns and whites being the primaries. “Painting that piece, in my mind, the color palette is very similar to the two street scenes [Late Show and New York Haze]. They’re more based in violets and yellows, and the barn scene is grays and blues, with a lot of white to keep it so high key.”
Sievers continues, “I approach paintings more so now in a way that each painting has their own palette, and the style and application makes them cohesive with my work. Imagine a favorite music album— I listen to The Beatles often, so if you picture [the album] Abbey Road, they will have a song that is very rock and high tempo and you know instantly it’s them, and then there’s something very soft and pretty and you still know it’s their work. Each painting you look at has its own feeling or melody, and I can get away with that by pushing its own color palette. Moving from one painting to another, each almost has its own theme.”
The individual paintings make up the parts of Sievers’ art oeuvre. Some can have more transparency and others have shaper areas or paint drippings, or they focus on one color palette or subject, but they are tied together through his artistic vision. In Seeing Through a Painted Veil, collectors will see this play out, as they walk the gallery moving from one work to the next, exploring his varying subjects but cohesive style.
Running concurrently with Sievers’ exhibition, is the show Wisdom of the Wild for sculptor Bryce Pettit. A reception for both artists will happen on opening night, May 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. —
Matthew Sievers: Seeing Through a Painted Veil
When: May 28-June 19, 2021; May 28, 5-7 p.m., artist reception
Where: Blue Rain Gallery, 544 S. Guadalupe Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501
Information: (505) 954-9902, www.blueraingallery.com
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