Sometimes Comes the Mother, Sometimes the Wolf - Press Release

Press Release


Matt Bahen Solo Exhibition

Sometimes Comes the Mother, Sometimes the Wolf


Opening Reception: Friday April 25th from 6-8 pm
Exhibition runs April 25 thru May 31, 2014


Munch Gallery presents ‘Sometimes Comes the Mother, Sometimes the Wolf’ – new works by Canadian painter, Matt Bahen.
This is Bahen’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, and we are proud to be showing a selection of small and large scale oil paintings.

Matt Bahen is recognized for his human scale works on canvas, addressing themes of loss and the question of how to carry on. His use of a thick and heavily applied impasto technique, emphasizes the visceral quality of the delivery and subject. One of Canada’s most engaging young painters, Bahen’s work continues to grow in profile, having exhibited in Canada, the US and in Europe.


Sometimes Comes the Mother, Sometimes the Wolf

Until recently, Matt Bahen intently explored one, perhaps two themes at a time in his paintings for periods of several months up to a couple of years. Typically, those paintings portrayed desolate, overcast, wintry wildernesses or seeping, dilapidated interiors of abandoned buildings. Scant evidence of location or cause of the conditions was depicted. The places appeared forbidding and depopulated, thus reasoning and explanation were beside the point. They are not strictly uninhabited however; packs of feral dogs frequently pass through the woods or tussle in the ruins. Without explicit description, the scenes conjure the still eternities of aftermath or holocaust. Yet Bahen’s variations and elaborations of these motifs do not portend doom. He intends them as glimpses into the crises, conflicts and pains of tragedy and loss.

In the past year however, an incremental lift and sweeping liberty has occurred in Bahen’s art. The tone has shifted from conflict to contradiction. And in contradiction, Bahen identifies the very terms of life, growth, a resetting of the clock and reason to watch and honour time. His motifs have multiplied. The paintings pronounce the perpetual emergence of life and mystery.

Closer views of the prows and hulls of Kurtz, Milton, Dante and Holden of TX bluntly refer to existential protagonists and tormented poets with whom Bahen identifies. Apart from their names, these ships are otherwise generic. Holden of TX is stacked with containers, nearly interchangeable, contents unknown but, one supposes, commonplace. The deck of Kurtz, pooled with seawater, uncannily resembles a barren version of the early spring forest in The Hermit Camp.

In Only the Wind Could Hide His Tracks, the flood has subsided, the sediment settled. The placid, muddy waters clearly reflect the sky and a radiant light warming the still un-budded trees.

A series of small canvases, each titled The Earth and the Light, quickly condenses the essential elements of these scenic types and more. Moreover, they allude to places for and the presence of restored humanity. Here, a footprint path through the snow is discernible. There, a murmuring flock hovers over a city skyline. Could those be lifejackets visible against the rail of the ship? If so, are there people inside them, geared for survival?


Ben Portis