After the 2016 presidential election, Matthew went into a self-imposed exile, severing ties mentally and physically with the rampant development of fascism, police harassment, and political injustice developing in the United States. Upon leaving New York City via a one-way flight to Paris, Matthew sought out and was eventually embraced by the Parisian avant-garde. The pilgrimage Matthew made to Paris would fulfill a lifelong ambition of continuing the same rite of passage his painting idols of the Modern Age undertook some 150 years earlier. However alluring, the enormity of the City of Light would draw too many similarities to the seven years he had spent in the Empire City back west. Within a matter of months, Matthew would be boarding a train en route to the smaller village-like surroundings of Amsterdam, where he would eventually settle for the next two and a half years painting with a liberated soul, free from the monetized oppression of his native country. Returning to America armed with canvases in hand, Matthew aims to establish his place in the annals of art history with works currently exhibited in several institutions in Chicago and the surrounding area, including the solo exhibition, “A Post American Dream".
18” x 24”
Spontaneity plays a large part in the artwork of Matthew Dicks. In “Untitled (Elijah)”, the subject matter completely overcomes the canvas. A portrait that demands to be heard. Tongue shooting out like a dagger, voice shouting from left to right, up and down to whoever will listen. Taking on the psychological cues from the work of George Condo, “Elijah” displays the power of a religious message carried on from a gilded sphinx-esque figure.
In this delightful painting, Matthew harkens back to French Rococo master Fragonard and his masterpiece, “Young Girl Reading” (1770). Now we see Ruth, the artist lover, replacing the young girl with the intelligent elegance of womanhood radiating from her glowing skin like embers from a flame. The delicacy and softness of the paintings subject contrast the staccato brushwork which conveys the artist's enthusiasm.
16” x 20”
36” x 48”
With influences from the dazzling “Dos Cabezas” (1982) portrait depicting the friendship of Jean Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, this “Self Portrait” of Matthew Dicks taps into the same youthful energy, knowing contemplation, and tragic admiration as its muse. Matthew goes a step further by melding himself and Basquiat into a single head magnifying the kinship and palpable idolization that the late artists' work has had on his life. Similar to “Dos Cabezas,” this work was completed in a single evening.
“Tete,” French for "head," is the first painting Matthew finished after his first solo show, “A Post American Dream.” Looking to expand on the theme of how good and evil exist simultaneously in the human psyche, the painting shows a halo around a crude Neo-Expressionist figure. The deep red and black hues are bold proclamations in an attempt to arrest the viewer's attention, as two eyes are staring back at us unflinchingly. Influences of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Willem de Kooning abound in this striking portrait.
18” x 24”
24" x 24"
In “karma” Matthew is in conversation with the old Flemish master painter Peter Paul Rubens. The main action is taken directly from the former artists 1615 painting “Tiger Hunt.” Matthew refocuses the flurry of activity to represent the inevitability of consequences that spring into one’s life while attempting to ride forward on the metaphorical horse of prosperity.
24” x 30”
In the midst of great turmoil in the artist's life, in “Revolutionary” we see Matthew harkening to Neo-expressionism a la Jean-Michel Basquiat. The figurehead ravages in furious motion on the canvas. Its as if the complex synapses of the mind are just barely contained by layers of rich orange pastel and ochre. This is perhaps the fiercest portrait we have seen to date by Matthew Dicks.
In “Yo Mateo” we see the clearest identifications of some of the artist’s greatest influences: the atmosphere of Van Gogh, the aggressiveness of Gauguin, the subconscious of Miro, the confidence of Picasso, and the psychology of Condo. Having lived in New York, Paris, and Amsterdam, Matthew absorbed the history and styles of the most influential modern artists. The title translated to “I, Matthew” implies that he wants to be in the pantheon of the great contemporary artists.
18' x 24"
20" x 20"
Matthew was confronted numerous times while living in exile in Amsterdam regarding his identity, most poignantly his African American identity. “Quite Frankly” was made to radiate his individuality, intelligence, and creativity in a foreign country not entirely accepting of immigration. We can see the influences of Basquiat’s “Walking with Death” (1988) in this piece.
The title alludes to the famous Hellenistic statue, which greets visitors of the Louvre in Paris atop a grand staircase. Matthew was stunned by the statue, having been brought to tears realizing his journey from humble beginnings in Gary, Indiana to the artistic capital of the world. In “Winged Victory of Africa,” we see expressionistic sculpting of the female form, a deliberate x-ray illustration of the skeletal structure, as well as references to neoclassicism and African art.
Winged Victory of Africa
36” x 48”