Matthew Cornell

Matthew Cornell
There is something special about twilight; the transitional period between day and night can also be a metaphor for the transition between consciousness and sleep, past and present, the remembered and forgotten.

Like the state between waking and sleep, twilight can also be a period in which two different states coexist, the fading but still rich colors of the day and the glow of nighttime lights mingle in a way that evokes stillness and contemplation.

Florida based painter Matthew Cornell uses all of these elements to effect in his series of paintings that are part of a new solo show at Arcadia Contemporary in New York, titled “Pilgrimage”.

His often small scale paintings of suburban homes, streets, driveways and garages, made almost mystical by their twilight settings, are laden with meaning, as Cornell revisits in particular places of significance in his life after the recent death of his parents.

He also visits the childhood homes of his parents, wrapping all in the half remembered/half present sensation of muted light.

“Pilgrimage” will be on display at Arcadia Contemporary from March 19 to April 22, 2915.


6 Replies to “Matthew Cornell”

  1. My initial thought was ‘how beautiful ‘, such rich colour, such faithful capturing of a moment, but the more I looked, the less satisfied I felt.
    For scenes from life, there is little in the way of life here – no people, no dogs, cats, birds – just empty scenes.
    The paintings are brilliant, no doubt about that, but the essential ‘ life ‘ has been removed, and for me, that`s a pity.

  2. These are beautiful and I think they are full of life. Although I can appreciate Brian’s point I don’t think people or animals must be shown to represent life. The life is in the lit windows, the porch lights, the car approaching the bridge, the maintained homes and yards.

    But the real point of this series is his Pilgrimage and their personal meaning and he is using twilight as a metaphor.
    I prefer hearing other artist’s insights and the meaning behind their work and then can appreciate them more based on that.
    Although I can’t speak for the artist reading that I imagine including people especially, and maybe animals too, would work against his very personal journey back through his and his parents lives.
    The paintings might then be about those people.

    That very stillness coupled the time of day says a lot about the transitional contemplative parts of our lives and even though they were created from his own experiences they also allow us, the viewers, to impart our own without the distraction of ‘other people’ in the paintings.

  3. Thanks, Brian and David.

    I can understand both points of view. I connect with some of these in a a strong way — to the point that, for me, the life in them is myself, projected into the scene as though I was standing there experiencing the stillness of twilight (much as David suggests).

  4. I had a conversation with the artist at an exhibition. I had always thought his pictures were lonely and psychologically desolate. He, on the other hand reveled in the strong hints of life behind the walls. Both of us were, as it turns out, using our childhood twilight/dawn life experiences to fill in the blanks. Either way, his treatment of light is transcendent. You should see his seascapes.

  5. Interesting thoughts, Chris. Thanks. I responded based on my own experience as well, with a feeling of those moments in which one is alone and attentive, but not necessarily lonely — quietly noticing things that would be difficult to share or communicate with someone else.

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