Born in 1959 in Padua, Italy, Matteo Massagrande is a painter steeped in the history and tradition of figurative representation. He has been exhibiting his work since 1973, and has shown extensively around the world, his paintings featuring in many public and private collections. This sequence of new paintings are shown exclusively in the UK at The Pontone Gallery. He divides his time between Padua and Hajos, Hungary. The influence of both locations is fundamental to the content and spirit of his practice. This is his source material.
In their subject matter and method of execution the paintings evoke light, place and time. Most show architectural interiors with vistas through to exterior spaces, some focus on cryptically symbolic trees. He is particularly interested in revealing the light that articulates and discloses the subject. His technical accomplishment is evident in their subtle expression, where he deploys a masterful and meticulous command of colour and tonality.
The nature of his subject is intriguing and mysterious. He shows unoccupied, decayed, possibly abandoned, domestic interiors. These still and eloquent rooms are freighted with absence and melancholy. This is offset by the sophisticated handling of light and colour, which seduces the eye and lends a lighter atmosphere of interested enquiry. These rooms have intricate tiled floors, which flow from one space to the next, leading the eye to subsequent rooms and eventually to garden-like exteriors. What one begins to notice are deliberate variations in perspective, emphasised by the grids of tiling, which suggest that these paintings do not simply record a view, but are elaborate constructs. They are in fact composite images, collated to produce theatrical and compressed evocations of location and history.
A tension plays out in these outwardly calm and controlled images. The subject, a point in time and space, is elusive, constantly changing and sitting on the edge of perception. Massagrande’s careful rendering of his systematic and forensic observations makes paintings of rich visual density, which effectively capture and pin down a significant moment within his rigorous method.