Jennifer Samet reviews Mercedes Matter: A Survey: Paintings & Drawings from 1929 to 1998 at Mark Borghi Fine Art, New York, on view through May 26, 2017.
Samet writes: “Matter’s insistence on the nude female body, and on still lifes of flowers, drapery, and skulls as the focus of observational painting — for herself and her students — can also feel problematically outdated. It is difficult, today, to reconcile radical painterly invention with dusty still lifes and charcoal. This is perhaps even harder to ignore in the Borghi Fine Art’s Upper East Side gallery, where paintings are installed in close proximity, and one is even shown on an old-school viewing platform. But her students still talk about the incredible beauty of her set-ups, each object carefully selected, individual fruits purchased the overpriced Balducci’s, and arranged to exhibit complex color harmonies. There was a drama in her method that successfully communicated the belief that everything exists in relation to something else.”