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Matthew Craven

Rendezvous with Rama

May 31 - July 6, 2024

Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven
Work on paper by Matthew Craven

Press Release

Asya Geisberg Gallery is pleased to present “Rendezvous with Rama,” an exhibition of drawings by Matthew Craven. Each work is titled after a classic work of science fiction, with the show’s title being an homage to Arthur C. Clarke, best known for “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Craven’s style rests on a pleasing fusion of drawing with a fine point marker girded onto a grid of cells, resembling an early digital interface. It is one of many ways Craven finds parallels from antiquity to the present, as his work posits that all geometric abstraction, no matter the time or origin, plucks from a universality of forms and patterns. Craven’s central insight is that the unfamiliar must always be couched in the understood, just as science fiction can dream up a futuristic or alien world only by relating back to what we can easily observe.

Adept at the call and response to printed material, Craven now plumbs dusty paperbacks whose patinas mirror the faded, ripped, and taped up ‘60s and ‘70s B-movie posters he uses, long the substrate to his feverish drawing. The graphic boldness of book covers of the era meets its match - in Craven’s series, their minimalism refracted into baroque variations. A glowing orb floats in Chapterhouse, suggesting an unknown planet or distant sun, or perhaps a flying saucer. Pictographs abound, a hint of intra-universe communication.

In the development of the exhibition, Craven was re-reading “Rendezvous,” a story told from the point of view of a group of human explorers who intercept an abandoned extraterrestrial spaceship in an attempt to unlock its mysteries. The ship's crew attempts to describe the strange landscape inside the alien vessel, and so Craven finds an apt metaphor for the viewer’s experience of his work. The crew attempt to articulate something seemingly familiar at first, but whose ultimate purpose of discovery remains unknown. In Neverwhere, Palace of Eternity and Foundation, a quasi-alphabet emerges from the striated blocky letters. Elsewhere, glyphs suggest an Aztec tale, and fragments of dense drawing could be a torii gate, pagoda, or ziggurat. In Ringworld parallel lines suggest a circuit, in other works, saguaros, flowers, or pixelated plants conjure a landscape, as the flatness of the design gets interrupted by moments of symbolic intent. Indeed, interpreting Craven’s work feels like squinting at an eye chart, or perhaps a frustrating attempt to decipher the Rosetta Stone. It is in that failure that the artist charts his series, akin to the explorers and human-alien encounters of the future as envisioned 50 years ago.