Matthew Hoffman: Muti Polar @ All Rise Gallery


I didn’t find out about this exhibit until near the end, but my friend Matt let me know about a show of us at All Rise Gallery on Milwaukee. After dinner, Liz and I hopped on the scooters, and made our way over.

It’s been a long while since I last saw some of Matt’s work (a day filled with a lot of walking with Chris, as I recall). So it was nice to see some of his newer stuff.

Although that’s technically incorrect. The current exhibit is entitled Multi Polar, and showcases three of the psuedonyms that Matt has been working under. So while some of it is new, part of the exhibit involves him revealing his participation in prior projects, under a different name.

The descriptions of each name/project were actually quite entertaining to read, and I’m drawn to the notion that Matt is running with: namely, removing the artist from the art. With some of the stuff that I make (flash experiments, poetry), I know that I tend to gravitate towards the famewhore side of things. So deliberating erasing or separating the name from the work is confusing, but a little intriguing nonetheless.

In a lot of ways, I can imagine how that can be liberating… in terms of the creation process. How that might lend itself more freedom to experiment. I can also see how, with ego more removed, the emphasis falls more onto the work being created.

Matt’s a good guy, and I like the work that he does. He had me thinking about a lot of these things, as I was walking around the gallery space.

// Edit: I thought the gallery space itself looked familiar, but couldn’t place it on the night of the event. I think this was the same space.


Persona 1: Ervin.


The way the portraits extended made me think of organic growth, for some reason. The effect of all these portraits next to one another was like being in someone’s home, looking over their family members. The chair, mirror and shelves also added a lot to this effect, I think.


Liz, checking out the portraits.


Portrait detail.


Persona 2: H Mathis.


The Dirt Project is a neat idea, and displayed really well. There are lumps of dirt from every state, collected by volunteers that were found via craigslist.


The project notes for this were really interesting – particularly, the details about the dirt from Hawaii. There was some kind of warning about removing soil from Hawaii, and a potential curse for those who did? I’m not sure if I’m remembering this correctly. But I think that the person who brought the dirt back ended up getting super ill after arriving in the states. Hospital ill.

Each piece of dirt is set on a stand that mirrors the shape of its state of origin. On top of that, each little guy rotates. Check out the video:



Persona 3: Sighn.


Seeing this wall of work was really impressive, both for how much I liked the pieces… and for how much time it must have taken to create each one. It’s cool to look back on Matt’s work and see the progression to now.


Detail view.


This is one of the first pieces that caught my eye. The script he “writes” in is small and compressed, and often difficult to read. Part of the process, I think, is one of discovery for the viewer – you’re working your way in to the words, trying to figure out what’s being said.

On seeing this, I imagined him painstaking carving out the text with a small drill or something, gradually writing out the words.


Wrong. I found the counterpart a bit further down the wall. He carved it out in one shot. Good lord.


As I went from piece to piece, it dawned on me that these weren’t separte works: they were pairs, many of them.


They were almost like pieces of a puzzle. You could see how one could just slip right back in to the other.


I don’t think the photo does this justice, as this was a very impressive (and very large) piece.


According to the notes, I think Matt ended up using over 1,000 saw blades to make these pieces. I’m no carpenter, but I’m wowed by how much time it must have taken to carefully cut all these words from wood. Amazing stuff.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. one brilliant thing about these saw-cut pieces that impresses me, and something that people might otherwise overlook, is that he’s included the positive AND negative parts in the show, so you can see that he’s employing jedi skill in executing the work — slips are nill and process is laid bare in full & earnest honesty. an Ace!

    rob Reply


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