"Lead Me Not Into Temptation For I'll Find It Myself" - Matt McCormick

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Lead Me Not Into Temptation 

9 x 12 Inches
Hard Cover Cloth Bound With Cloth Slipcase 

212 pages

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Sampling from the conflicted histories and disproportion of wealth of his home bases in Los Angeles and New York and the wider aesthetic of the Western American landscape, McCormick mines the nostalgia of a faded utopia that was the American dream. Through a combination of painting, works on paper, photos, video, sculpture, and installation, the artist investigates his generation’s lack of social mobility and the crippling debt inherited from the mismanagement of global wealth. 

Throughout his work, McCormick employs pastiche as both an aesthetic and critical form. Slogans and catchphrases wrested from billboard signs, advertising and bumper stickers - are set in a free fall as they nestle alongside snippets of contemporary culture. 

In Into the Distances - a series began in 2016 - the artist overlays intricate charcoal drawings of cowboys against affedcted photographic prints of the American West. McCormick photographs the ubiquitous desert scenes and prints these directly onto the paper which are digitally manipulated into a series of surrealist tableaus. The cowboy is a rich symbol in American culture - one that embodies adventure, self-reliance, and rugged individuality. He is instantly recognisable wearing boots, spurs, and Stetson hat. In Somewhere Between Right And Wrong, two mounted cowboys sit in an augmented pink desert landscape, going about their work in an unknowable journey. By reconstituting this symbol onto a contemporary stage, the figure works to typify the unattainability and futility of the American dream. The cowboy acts as a proxy to the now defunct sense of obtainable achievement pervasive in the generations following the Second World War.

In a series of Story Paintings, the artist samples from the fabric of his surroundings into vignettes of contemporary life. McCormick splits and recombines mundane snippets from highway scenes, billboard advertising, and from the realms of film, TV, and social media into compressed metaphors and narrative stories. In Meet Me At The Station, Don’t Be Late, a photograph of cowboys casually leaning on a Chevrolet is set alongside a snaking railroad, bisecting the picture plane. Text such as OUT TO SPREAD THE NEWS, and the slogan which gives the work its title, are hand-written into the scene by the artist. This process of imbuing everyday imagery with multiple - even contradictory - meanings, defines McCormick’s approach to the found texts and images which litter his works.

Stop Sign For Drunks, a freestanding stop sign, pays homage to Martin Kippenberger’s celebrated Street Lamp For Drunks, a series begun by the artist in the 1980s. McCormick’s readymade sculpture, which takes a curvilinear aquiline form, is a parodic, tongue-in-cheek nod to the art world’s quintessential trickster. Elsewhere, Texas Flood takes the form of a neon sign appropriated from an advertisement of a bar and lounge. By mounting the neon onto a pallet, it serves to distort and destabilise the meaning from its original context. As throughout the exhibition, this recontextualising from its intended purpose underscores the text’s inherent oddness and ambiguity.

McCormick’s work, through video, painting, collage and neon, subtly scrutinises the visual and verbal clichés of American popular culture. He holds a mirror to underlying assumptions and ideologies of Western society, critiquing and parodying a generation. 

-Emma Murphy, OMNI


Fice Gallery & Boutique