Artist Whose Work Was Featured at MoMA Returns Home for Baton Rouge Exhibit

“Tide” by Matt Kenyon. (Images courtesy of Baton Rouge Gallery)

Matt Kenyon hasn’t touched a canvas for a long time.

“It was kind of a weird flashback, just the tactile part,” says the renowned artist, educator, and TED Fellow. This month he adds Baton Rouge Gallery to his resume of exhibiting galleries – and the first in his hometown of Baton Rouge.

The “tactile part” he refers to is the canvas stretching process he used on a selection of three paintings to prepare them for display at the Baton Rouge Gallery’s “Cloudburst” exhibition. The exhibition includes a dozen works in a variety of mediums throughout his career, addressing topics ranging from housing insecurity to climate change. There’s even an installation called ‘Tide’, which was inspired in part by the floods that devastated the capital region in 2016. As for the paintings, they come from his time as an undergraduate student at the Southeastern Louisiana University, when he was still “very identified with being a painter” – an identity he has since moved on from and a time he hasn’t revisited in some time.

For an artist, exhibiting paintings may not seem particularly unique. But for Kenyon, who for the past two decades has favored tools such as coding, engineering, data mining, math and biomechanics over traditional brush and canvas, these three paintings form what he calls it a sort of “mini-retrospective” of his work before he found his groove as an artist.

“We always move fast and think about the next thing,” he says. “Having a moment to reflect, personally, has been quite emotional.”

Each of Kenyon’s works is a combination of physical metaphor, performance art, social criticism and subversive civil disobedience.

This propensity for the novel and the unexpected has earned Kenyon a permanent seat at the forefront of contemporary art. His works have graced the Museum of Modern Art in New York; ZKM | Karlsruhe Center for Art and Media (in Germany); and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, to name a few venues, and have even been featured in The New York Times. But despite all his praise at heavyweight, Kenyon says he has a “complicated relationship with prestige”.

Read Kenyon’s full story at 225 magazine. Subscribe for free 225 per day e-newsletter for more arts and events in Baton Rouge.

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