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Art City: Matt Bollinger’s ‘Odd Jobs’ at Prairie Lights’ Cafe


Odd Jobs Blues
‘Odd Jobs Blues’ is part of Matt Bollinger’s show, Odd Jobs, currently on view at Prairie Lights.

A selection of new works by New York-based painter and collagist, Matt Bollinger, is on view at Prairie Lights’ cafe through Aug. 3.

Entitled Odd Jobs, Bollinger presents a series of collage-paintings in which each image contains a snippet of a larger storyline. As the title implies, many of the scenes portrayed fall under the description of ‘odd jobs,’ yet the show is not constrained by a single narrative concept.

Bollinger uses scraps of painted paper to construct his compositions, which grants the freedom to configure (and reconfigure) the direction of his brushstrokes in ways that more traditional painting methods wouldn’t allow. In his figurative work especially, Bollinger models paint and material into sharp, dramatic planar shifts, resulting in images that are almost sculptural in appearance.

Many details that would normally escape our attention, such as the spiral binding of a notepad, are rendered with delicate, filigree-like paper cutouts. Overall, cinematic blocking and distinct color palette — washed-out in some places and hyper-saturated in others — links the work visually, and moreover, it transforms these episodes of daily life into something decidedly odd.

In a sequence of three paintings called the “Big Sky,” the silhouette of a young man wearing a backpack progresses down the street. Collaged scraps of painted paper are patched together to create the figure; the deckle edge of torn paper acts as a line, and touches of paint create a halo around the backlit form. Perhaps in this instance, the menial job is compulsory education. Seen from a worm’s eye view, the backdrop behind the figure becomes the sky, a cluster of leaves, a burst of sunshine and the top of a building, possibly a school.

In “Odd Job Blues,” a steno pad and cassette tape are viewed from above, giving the feeling that the author of the to-do list scratched off an accomplishment, stood up from the table and glanced down before setting off to eliminate another item from the list. Concerns that need attending to include: black mold, bad drywall, well pump, flashlight, etc. The phrase “odd jobs,” with its twofold purpose as the title of the show and heading of the to-do list, has been crossed off with three parallel lines.

Odd Jobs
‘Odd Jobs’ by Matt Bollinger.

The title piece, “Odd Jobs,” shows a bare-chested man with a farmer’s tan and a loosely tied bandana around his neck. The sun, having reached its apex, casts long brownish-grey shadows over his eyes.

He looks as though he’s about to yank his bandana up over his face and sport it bandit style, presumably to screen against dust particles. Saturated hot pink flesh tones spread across his arms and nose suggesting sunburn and heatstroke.

A few of the pieces in Odd Jobs depict the jobs and responsibilities people take on but would much rather procrastinate or forget all together. At times comical, at times inspired, Bollinger’s show introduces characters who eek out their last ounce of energy in order to finish the job: for duty’s sake, for money’s sake or perhaps, for the gratification of those idle hours spent after a hard day’s work.


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