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Matthew Weinstein

An Inducement, A Deliquescence, A Pungency Enveloped in a Caress

Jan 26 - March 8, 2012



Works in the Exhibition


(Lobby area, to the left: 16:9 screen)


What Luis Navelo and Zalmen Rosen Heard (2004)

single channel SD projection, digital file, stereo sound, 12 mins looped.

Voice: Kathy Simmons, music: Jonathan DinersteinEd 10+2 AP


(Lobby area to the right, 3 Paintings left to tight)


Niagara 7 (2011)

Acrylic on canvas 20” x 16”


Little Metal Fish (2009)

Acrylic on canvas 24 1?4 x 18 Cellini 4 (2011)

Acrylic on canvas 24” ¼ x 18”


(Main room)


The Childhood of Bertold Brecht (2010)

single channel HD video, digital projector, stereo sound. 16:9. 20 mins looped

Voices: Child Brecht: Dalton Harrod. City Pig: John Benjamin Hickey. Country Pig: Denis O'Hare. Police Pig: Seth Gertsacov. Fish: Blair Brown.

Music for 'Dorthea Song,' written by Francis Harris and John Stroud.

Produced, engineered and mixed by Francis Harris

Music for 'Big Sister Song,' written by Francis Harris and Jordan Lieb.

Produced, engineered and mixed by Francis Harris.Sound track written, produced, engineered and mixed by Francis Harris

Music for 'Das Kapital Song,' performed by Bryan Barron and composed by Stumblebum Brass Band.

All song lyrics written by Matthew Weinstein

Ed 8 + 2AP


(Mid area flatscreen)


Perpetual Revolution (2012)

HD video, HD flat screen, silent, 16:9, 6 min loop

Ed 5+2AP


(Mid area floating screen to the right)


Cruising 1980 (2010)

single channel HD video, digital file, stereo sound, 16:9, 5 min looped

-Music: Balkan Beat Box

Ed 5 + 2AP


(Mid area to the left: single screen on wall)


Chariots of the Gods (2009)

HD video, digital file, stereo sound, 20 mins looped 16:9

-Voice: Natasha Richardson, music: Francis Harris

Ed 10 + 2 AP


(Large back room to the far right)


Siam (2008)

single channel HD video, digital file, 14 mins looped

Siam.-Voice and Music: Balkan Beat Box and Blair Brown.

Ed 10 + 2AP


(Small back room to the far left)


Three Love Songs From the Bottom of the Ocean (2005)

single channel SD video, projector, stereo sound, 16:9, 14 mins looped

-Voice: Blair Brown, music: Jonathan Dinerstein

Ed 10 + 2AP




Young Projects is proud to present the first solo exhibition of Matthew Weinstein in Los Angeles. The New York-born artist has shown at the Denver Museum, the Mint Museum (NC), The Wexner Center (Ohio), Portugal Arte 10 (Lisbon), Musee Matisse (Paris) Kunsthalle Vienna, Pinakothek der Moderne (Munich) and many others. His work is also included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's permanent collection, as well as other key collections


Weinstein is known for creating sophisticated 3D animation work that uses the kind of visual language generally associated with major animation studios such as Pixar and DreamWorks (i.e. through the use of advanced software, motion-capture, and professional actors and musicians including Tony award winners Natasha Richardson, Hope Davis, Dennis O’Hare, Blair Brown and the Balkan Beat Box). However, the artist's esthetic draws mostly from his painting and sculptural practice, which draws equally from antiquity as it does Pop art and cinema. A major influence on the artist, for example, was his discovery of Ikebana, —the art of floral arranging, —while living in Japan as an exchange student. For him such arrangements become all the more beautiful when, and only when, the viewer “rises to,” the dictates, traditions and abstract qualities of the craft. “"[In Ikebana]”", says the artist, "“beauty is not a given. It’s learned. Real beauty his an ethical aesthetic.”"


Since then Weinstein has continued to find a delicate balance between the overt decorative qualities if his chosen medium (figurative animation) and the abstract qualities of denser, more critical ideas. For the better part of the past two decades he has featured an array of strange but seductive characters, which often take the form of candy-colored koi fish (another reference to Japanese decorative traditions). In each case these characters combine storytelling with original musical numbers, which more often than not verge on the subversive and the perverse. The result is an otherworldly, often hallucinatory experience that remains utterly unique within the realm of contemporary art.

An Inducement, A Deliquescence, A Pungency Enveloped in a Caress, a phrase taken from Joris-Karl Huysmans’ well-known celebration of artifice, Against Nature (1884), includes seven of Weinstein’s animations and three of his paintings. At the center of the exhibition is his latest work, The Childhood of Bertold Brecht (2011), which is being presented for the first time on the West Coast. Weinstein describes it as a “"non-narrative musical tale of disillusionment and greed."” But it also serves as the first in what will be a series of long-form animations based on various writers from the 20th century including Anna Kavan, Robert Walser and George Simenon.

Brecht’'s actual story barely appears in Weinstein'’s interpretation, which features a cast of porcelain pigs and an infant Brecht. Instead the artist paints a personal tale that has more to do with Brecht’'s notion of ‘Epic Theater’ than any factual representations. For Brecht, illusion and naturalism were detestable goals within the realm of theater, since they were antithetical to notions of real truth (or the truth of the representation). Therefore he often had had his actors address his viewer’s directly—, a technique borrowed from burlesque— traditions, which allowed him to deal with more difficult provocations without tipping over into melodrama or propaganda.


Weinstein often follows in a similar vein, where a character might talk or sing to the viewer as if he or she was in the same room. What’'s more, like Brecht, he understands that the term ‘burlesque’ comes from the French term for ‘gross imitation’ (circa 1660), which is to say that he often incorporates ideas of mimicry, imitation and reflection in his work (which extends to his paintings and sculptures.) Mirrors and pristine surfaces can be found repeatedly, often leading to double and quadruple images at the same time. But he also uses a form of doubling where characters lead to similar characters from one work to the next, or he uses a multitude of references to create an echo of ideas within the work itself. In the video Chariots of the Gods (2009), for instance, the lead character, a metallic fish, exists in what looks like a staged movie set with flats and flyaway walls. But at one point the background becomes foreground as the set morphs into the famous eatery in Alfred Hitchcock'’s Vertigo (a film that is also about the psychological effects of mimicry). Yet the set in Hitchcock’s film was actually a replica of Ernie’'s restaurant in San Francisco, which was created on a film set. Thus Weinstein’'s copy is a copy of a copy and so on.


That idea becomes all the more complex when it comes to Weinstein’'s paintings and sculptures. Working with airbrush, precision stenciling and paintbrushes, his canvases often spring from the digital environments he creates for his animated works. Created analytically, by examining the output from the computer in minute detail, Weinstein is able to analyze reflectivity and surface and translate these phenomena into painted works often using airbrush techniques, precision stenciling and paintbrushes. The result has all the pristine gloss of his animations but in three dimensions. However, they are not meant as metonymic subjects isolated from his narrative works, or even representation of those narratives, as in say the sculptures of Matthew Barney or Disney merchandising. They are simply further iterations of Weinstein'’s interest in mirroring, which in itself has obvious connotations for cinema and a long and rich history within the history of painting. As Rosalind Krauss writes, the idea of the mirror within classical painting “freezes and locks the self into the space of its own reduplicated being; flowing and freezing; mirror and ice; transparency, opacity and water. In the associative symbolist thought this liquidity points to a direction, first toward the flow of birth and then towards the freezing stasis or death… This is a multi-level representation through which the work of art can allude and even reconstitute the forms of being.”


Such ideas of stasis and death can be extended to our own culture’s inability to distinguish between the real and the virtual; between the personal and the public; between news and entertainment. As the maxim goes, “boundaries died with the dawn of the Post Modern.” But as Weinstein'’s art suggests, great beauty and “aesthetic rapture” as Weinstein suggests, will never fade away, and in fact might become more powerful when experienced through the rigor of a strict dictum, —much like classic Ikebana. Taking a page from the devotional arts (and Joris-Karl Huysmans’ novel), Weinstein likes to point out that "“the Catholic Church of the 16th and 17th centuries created imagery that encouraged the contemplation of the abstract through idealized yet familiar forms,"” he writes. “"This contemplation has as its goal the escape from the forces of desire; the lures and lies of what we mistakenly consider to be real. The real and the unreal hand-in-hand, pulling apart as they clasp together firmer and firmer. Perhaps [that culture and ours] are seeking a final liberation from the physical. The final out-of-body experience is the ultimate moment when our heads swell up like balloons and float our minds away.”".

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