Art Basel Pioneers: Matthew Angelo Harrison
Eight new sculptures by Matthew Angelo Harrison offer a sneak peek of the artist’s upcoming solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel.
Harrison’s commitment to both conceptual depth and dexterous craft is evident in his “Dark Silhouettes,” a complex body of sculptural work wherein the artist encapsulates carefully curated objects in tinted resins. In this chapter of the evolving series, Harrison is more personal in his choice of objects and more confidently gestural in the way he carves the resin. Here he includes gloves, jackets and signs gathered by his mother and sometimes even signed by her friends who work in the automotive industry for which Detroit or Motown has long been known. While still investigating his “abstract ancestry,” as he calls it, Harrison also explores lost fathers, single mothers and communities closer to home. Mementos are transformed into fossils while African deities are embraced as friends. During the global pandemic, many artists have been thrust into introspection. As Harrison admits, “I am myself a landscape that I have to understand.”
In June, Harrison will enjoy a show at the Kunsthalle Basel, his first European solo show, and in March 2022, will open a solo exhibition at MIT List Visual Arts Center. Harrison was born in Detroit in 1989 to a single mother who worked on the assembly line of an automobile parts factory. Raised by “a matriarchy,” as the artist puts it, Harrison won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he was attracted to conceptual models that took art beyond craft. Upon graduation, he worked for two years in the design department of Ford Motors, furthering his aptitude for 3-D modelling, computer coding and complex production processes. Harrison has been included in the New Museum Triennial and the Whitney Biennial. He has enjoyed solo shows at Broad Art Museum (East Lansing, MI), Atlanta Contemporary, and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD). His work is in many permanent collections: de Young Museum, San Francisco; Detroit Institute of Arts; Galeries Lafayette Foundation, Paris; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.