Matt Brackett’s Dichotomy
With a poetic and rhythmic title, “Dark Waters/Grateful Daughters” is a wily exhibition that counterpoints two very different groups of paintings, spanning a five-year, highly demanding period in Matt Brackett’s life.
“Dark Waters” is a selection from Brackett’s “Dark Animals” series (2009-12), animal-landscape portraits within the realism/naturalism tradition, while “Grateful Daughters” are recent abstracted-tonal, sketch-like unfinished experiments featuring intimate views of flowers in full bloom, originally called “Daughters of Gratitude” (2013-14). The adroit decision to exhibit thesetwo contrasting modes together was made by curator Katherine French, who recently became Catamount Arts’ gallery director after retiring as the executive director of DanforthArt in Framingham, Mass.
In this exhibition, Brackett’s brand of animal reality-drama is softened by his boldly colored floral explorations. But, it’s important to note that while these flowers are indeed pretty to look at, they are not placid. They are voluminous, attention-grabbing blooms in the process of maturing.
Alternating visually between the two manners provides the viewer with a break away from the monotony of digesting one or the other subject and style as an individual solo group. The combination also adds substantially to understanding the subtly conveyed narrative that Brackett is sharing. What we read by shifting from animal story to declamatory flower is that the artist was juggling moments of extreme transition with feelings of being perpetually on the edge of chaos. This intense and isolating period eventually broke and was transformed by or into passionate life where struggle and possible decay became a deep and heavy joy.
Brackett’s paintings, overall, including “Threshold” and other earlier figurative-landscape works, convey a certain old-fashioned manner that is reminiscent, although contemporary and updated, of the formal and trained European academia approach coupled with an American sensibility and physicality. These are highly composed classic forms of expressive-realism with a touch of romanticism. Brackett’s work is about structure and organization.