Matthew Bergey

I build on the shoulders of the Op-Artists before me by honoring their attention to pattern and precision while selectively breaking from the axioms they set up to mimic the splendor in the unpredictability of nature. Nature has always been an inspiration to my work, looking at the complex fractal patterns of each plant stretching and reaching towards the light of the sun is not only visually beautiful but conceptually contains lessons of sustainability, competition, erosion, and cooperation. Every type of interaction people experience with each other has some parallel that can be found in nature: from ivy strangling the tree that it once relied on to escape the underbrush, to the complex pseudo sexual interaction of pollinating insects and the flowers that entice them. These complex relationships cannot be simplified to just a cooperative depiction, or just antagonistic, it is as nuanced as can be, and my work aims to highlight this inherent amorality within the natural world.

My work is also deeply inspired by music, I try and translate many concepts I experience in jazz, Avant Folk, and many other playfully experimental genres. How can I visually represent timbre, arpeggios, rhythm, etc. within the plane of a canvas? I seek these answers not just for their formal experimentation or the appeal of the novel that comes with successful experimentation but because I yearn to visually recreate the emotional effect of these sonic experiences. Unlike the abstract artists of modernity, I do not seek to be untethered from the realm of representation. Our understanding of abstraction stems from our experiences within the representational world, and as shown by Picasso, Chuck Close, and many others can be embedded back within a real scene. My work seeks to draw attention to this dual understanding of the world, the what of a scene and how the what presents itself. What I choose to depict in my art is most often is a precise moment of experience; the first touch of two hands meeting, lightening striking, a mouse poking its nose through a hole in the wall. These pivotal sensual experiences take inspiration from religious arts many revelatory moments of touch ala Caravaggio’s “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas” to Bernini’s “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa”.

Universal to these explorations is my aspiration to make objects of uncanny perfection. To have an object that is imbued with such a clear logic and commitment to the logic that it appears almost unearthly, free from the world of circumstance and chance we inhabit.

Senior at Rhode Island School of Design