Matthew Porter, High Difference @Invisible-Exports

JTF (just the facts): A total of 12 black and white and color photographs, variously framed in brown wood, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space and the back office area. Aside from 2 Polaroid studies (from 2014, roughly 4×3 in size, unique), all of the works on view are archival pigment prints, made in 2013 or 2014. Physical dimensions range from roughly 20×16 to 59×47, and the prints are available in editions of 4+2AP. (Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: Given that Matthew Porter is perhaps best known for his images of soaring muscle cars digitally inserted into sunset scenes of crested city streets, his new work might seem like a conscious reversal, a deliberate effort to avoid getting stuck in a crowd pleasing rut. But Porter’s in-camera multiple exposures are more thoughtful than just a straightforward negation of an earlier artistic approach; they examine various technologies and styles that have lost their meaning in our new age, bringing them together in unlikely combinations and constellations, where formal qualities now outweigh original uses. It’s hybrid appropriation and reuse, but done the old fashioned way.

Porter’s collage-like images mix both three dimensional forms and two dimensional silhouettes, disrupting our sense of order with their constantly changing scale. Tiny gears, keys, and miniature designer chairs become larger than expected, while shelving units, painted furniture, iron work, and lattice patterns appear at roughly one-to-one proportions, creating layers of floating intermingled objects in contrasting colors and sizes. The overall effect is something akin to a color photogram, with ghosts of shapes and image fragments overlapping into bold rebus-like abstraction. The best of these works are a controlled clash of design and detailing, where fluted columns and a microscope overlay a patterned tablecloth, or shells on a tabletop compete with old nails and a streamlined tin teakettle.

Other works in the show explore technical obsolescence more directly, from a lighthouse set down amid a tourist pier to crosshatched black and white “dazzle” camouflage (a paint style used in WWI to disorient submarines) applied to custom made fabric leggings. Multiple exposure istudies of these leggings create dissolving, intermingled patterns of triangles and lines, ultimately achieving the goal of preventing the viewer from knowing whether the model is coming or going; it’s old technology reconsidered, given new life in an alternate context.

Even at their most densely packed, Porter’s new additive, iterative image constructions are remarkably restrained; these are works of pre-visualization more than chance. It is this visual problem solving and underlying order that gives the works their structure and balance, infusing the assortment of discarded objects and surrounding negative space with a sense of unifying graphic coherence.

Collector’s POV: The prints in this show are generally priced between $2500 and $6000 each, with the smaller Polaroids at $1400 each. Porter’s work has little secondary market history, so gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

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JTF (just the facts): Published in 2020 by Éditions Xavier Barral (here). Hardcover (19×24 cm), 108 pages, with 58 color and black and white photographs. Includes an essay by Fannie ... Read on.

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