Matt Eaton's bold 'landscapes' at M Contemporary

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News
Opening at M Contemporary in Ferndale Friday, Matt Eaton's "Meta/Morphic" features the Detroit artist's bold abstracts.

"Meta/Morphic," opening Friday at Ferndale's M Contemporary gallery, features Detroit artist Matt Eaton's abstract reflections on landscapes from Canyonlands National Park in Utah to the Mojave Desert and Florida. 

With its incandescent color palette and aggressive graphic elements, one almost wishes Eaton, who's program manager of Red Bull Arts Detroit in Eastern Market, had mounted this inherently energizing show in the dead of winter. It'd be the ideal antidote to seasonal affective disorder. 

The artist who grew up in California and London says the title, "Meta/Morphic," is a reference to geologic transformation under pressure and time - a nod both to the physical landscapes he's tackling, as well, perhaps, as the artist's internal processes. 

All the works in Matt Eaton's Meta/Morphic were created with spraypaint pigment, never mind how much they look like oil paintings.

"These are abstract landscapes of places I've seen with my own eyes," Eaton said Tuesday. "They’re a way of translating the beauty I see,  and narrowing in on specific things – cloud formations, geological phenomena and juxtaposition of colors."

There are, he said, about 20 works in the exhibition, rendered on canvases that range in size from 18 inches square to 48 inches square. In each case, Eaton said, he's tried to zero in on the most pronounced visual elements. 

"I'm exploring what I really find beautiful in the world," he said, "and taking the most extreme points of that – whether color or shape – and putting that on canvas."

Matt Eatons abstract landscapes in "Meta/Morphic" riff on visual memories from Canyonlands National Park, the Mojave Desert and Florida.

While these abstracts look like standard oil paintings, they're actually the product of a one-time graffiti artist who says it's been hard to switch from the spray paint medium he got to know as a teen.

"I grew up using a specific material," Eaton said, "and I’m so accustomed to all of its personality traits that it’s hard to escape from. I’m not an oil painter. I don’t use a brush."

He's concedes there's a highly graphic quality to his work. 

"Growing up, I was into skateboarding at the end of the good punk-rock age and the beginning of hip-hop," Eaton told The Detroit News in 2016. "There was a lot happening in graphic design at the time. That was hugely influential."

His work, he added in an interesting aside, "is more a meditative ritual than a career."

Color and dissonance characterize Matt Eaton's bold abstract landscapes, opening at M Contemporary in Ferndale Friday.

Matt Eaton: 'Meta/Morphic'

Friday - June 15

M Contemporary, 205 E. 9 Mile, Ferndale

Opening reception: 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday 

Noon-6 p.m. Wed.-Fri; noon-5 p.m. Sat.

(347) 665 - 7011 

(313) 222-6021