Matthew Bourbon is an artist and writer. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Bourbon earned separate undergraduate degrees in Studio Art and Art History from the University of California at Davis. Relocating to New York City, Bourbon earned his Masters of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts. Since then, his art has been exhibited nationally and internationally.
A selection of group exhibitions include: Rodeo, Galeri Rasmus, Odense, Denmark; The Song Sings Itself, Kenise Barnes Fine Arts, Larchmont, New York; Death of a Propane Salesman: Anxiety and the Texas Artist, Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Fort Worth, Texas; Red Velvet, Rudolph Projects/Art Scan Gallery, Houston, Texas; ArtExpo 2005, Salone d'Arte Contemporanea, Trieste, Italy; London Biennale 2004, Gallery 32, London, England; and Drawing Conclusions II, New York Arts Gallery, New York, New York. Past solo exhibitions include Arch Decievers, Avis Frank Gallery, Houston, Texas; Tender Pioneers, Darke Gallery, Houston, Texas; Crass, Cruel and Uncouth, Conduit Gallery, Dallas, Texas; The Artist's Eye, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas; and True Fictions, Studio 107, Austin, Texas.
Bourbon has been nominated and won numerous awards for his work. Recently he was awarded the Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant by the Dallas Museum of Art to conduct research in Japan, and he was named an Institute for the Advancement of Art Fellow at the University of North Texas. He has also been selected twice to be included in the Texas Biennial and in New American Paintings, where his work was highlighted as a Juror's Pick. Bourbon is currently a Professor of Art at the University of North Texas' College of Visual Arts and Design. He is also an art critic and contributor to Art Forum Online, Flash Art, ArtNews, New York Arts Magazine, and Glasstire, and served for several years as the regional editor for the journal Art Lies.
Recently my art has shifted directions. After many years of locating my painting as overtly narrative and figurative, I find myself craving a place for my painting that on the surface is simpler. I am pulled to paint modest shapes or objects, not as realism, but as invented doubles for many possible ideas: landscape, the human body, architecture, sculpture, industrial objects etc. I think of the component nature of all objectshow our world is made of the same parts reordered and infinitely reconfigured. This turn toward an elementary framework for my painting is also tied to my musings about Japanese rock gardens and Brutalist buildings.
Beyond this Venn diagram of influences, I am keen on having my meditation practice connect more directly with the "subject" of my art. My aim is to concentrate on a single object as a way to refer to, among other things, the idea of a person sitting still for meditation. By focusing on rudimentary forms built from a series of different shapes, I mean to suggest the internal activity of the mind meeting the stillness of the body. Essentially, I am curious about the connection between the contradictory sense of immobility and activity one finds in painting, with the stillness and activity one confronts while sitting in meditation.
Instead of storytelling, I strive to have my paintings exist in what I think are stranger watersplaces that feel humble in form, yet unnamable as one thing. Maybe on the other side of basic shape making and pattern discovery is a world still thick with comedy, sadness, philosophy, absurdity, and even sometimes dead straight earnestness.