Matt Bahen: There is Something Happening in the Valley
28 May to 24 July, 2022
Glenhyrst Art Gallery
In this exhibition, artist Matt Bahen creates paintings that allude to themes and devices found in literature and film. He pulls from a breadth of sources—Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy and the Dune series to the fantasy films Stalker and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. They teem with ecological imagery—unsullied rivers and forest fires—coupled with biblical icons—burning bushes and armoured thistles. In effect, allusion and metaphor battle for meaning in the landscape. There is no easy reading of Bahen’s work; everything is restless and unfolding, which makes for an absorbing tension across each composition. We can also read them with ahh over the sublime power of nature or through the lens of the Anthropocene, described as the beginning of the end of the world. This twist is similar to the literary tropes “enchanted forest” or “forbidden wood,” those mired homes of monsters in fairy tales and folklore, where the protagonist enters to discover themselves or become lost forever. Ultimately, Bahen’s paintings are both beautiful and deceptive; they ask us to look closely at what is knowable and unknowable about the land and landscape.
About the Artist
Toronto based painter Matt Bahen’s primary influence is literature. He strives to interpret the power of metaphor and allegory with paint. Bahen listens to audiobooks while working and is an avid reader of fiction, particularly Cormac McCarthy, TS Eliot, and Joseph Campbell. His impastoed surfaces and stark compositions are at once unsettling and highly engaging. Using various motifs including water, fire, and animals, Bahen constructs individual narratives that remain in a state of perpetual tension.
Matt Bahen was born in 1979 and raised in Schomberg Ontario. He received his BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2002. In 2013, his solo exhibition, “Gravity’s Faith,” was held at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie, Ontario. Bahen is represented by galleries in Edmonton, Toronto, and New York.
Glenhyrst Art Gallery acknowledges that we are on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabeg, and Haudenosaunee Peoples. Brantford is situated on the Haldimand Tract, land promised to Six Nations, which includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.
Glenhyrst Art Gallery is fully accessible and includes an elevator and accessible washroom. The main entrance is accessed by a concrete pathway and may be opened with an automatic door opener. For assistance or questions about the gallery, please call us. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.