Matthew Kirk

Born 1978 | Lives and works in New York


Matthew Kirk’s works, now being shown in Finland for the first time, resemble maps produced by combining painting and drawing. The topographical feel is created by making abstract marks filled with various symbolic details, along with sharp angles and rounded swirls – all in all filling the surface with a controlled chaos that retains a sense of structure. Kirk creates two-dimensional surfaces, but also a sense of depth, since some of the patterns appear to be further away than others.


Kirk starts his pieces by systematically filling in the surface from the edges towards the middle, or vice versa, but always staying within the edges. He uses acrylics, graphite, pencil, chalk, acrylic ink and diluted ink on drywall, tentatively drawing on the surface. Viewers can identify a feeling of dense patterns. Simultaneously, a certain lightness is preserved through the choices of pastel colours, as well as the calculated spaces between the markings, which let the greyish-pink tones of the drywall come through.


Kirk says that his Navajo heritage is signalled in these pieces. The exhibition’s visual language with its signs, marks and symbols resonates with his cultural heritage, while simultaneously evoking the urban infrastructure of New York, where he now lives and works. Kirk emphasizes that the agenda of his pieces also includes a visual playfulness: they almost resemble blueprints for walls that we would want to climb. With the markings, he has inserted events from his everyday life, while also imitating the colours and the weather of the landscapes that have surrounded him. The works satisfy viewers’ curiosity by offering them small details of symbols to focus on, or alternatively they can let themselves plunge into these abstract, imaginary maps in their entirety.