5 - 28 May 2023

Matthew Couper is an Aotearoa / New Zealand-born artist living and working in the USA. His art over the past twenty-five years mined western Art History practices ranging from early Italian Renaissance to Spanish and Mexican Baroque.


From the middle of 2019, desert island landscapes, moody skies enveloped with plumes of smoke, eyeballs with decorative tears, nails and Malevich-like constructions inhabit the canvases. Modes of survival are presented in tools such as the fire-starting bow drill and the ominous shark fin in the surrounding sea. Constructions provide shelter.


“The bigger picture is about survival ... the Social Isolation phenomenon is prevalent in a time where the world population is at its highest ever; questioning how we live, or don’t live in relation to others and false senses of security - not ready for slight shifts in the environment or other chaotic factors in society... With my new paintings, I’ve started off with the term ‘desert island’ to tie where I live now in the Mojave with where I come from in Aotearoa / New Zealand - especially in a world of pandemic peril - the term ‘Desert Island’ reconnecting my two worlds in paint.”


After three years of developing the language of painterly aesthetic survival methods on canvas, Couper is translating his large format paintings into sculptures, focusing on the interplay between materials and form. The oscillating compositions of nailed-together lumber, ropes, dripping eyeballs and billowing pipe smoke are portrayed in the tangible forms of wood, aluminium, glass, bronze, gold-leaf and the architectural protection technique of yakisugi. In a similar way to Couper’s make-shift constructions in his paintings, the sculptures implement various techniques with a variety of materials to realize the work in 3D. Matthew is showcasing a first edition prototype of his sculpture work in this exhibition.

Installation Views