In two rooms where people once lived, the artist has arranged an underlying structure of habitation.
In two rooms where people once lived, the artist has arranged an underlying structure of habitation. But the table is too short to use, the chair too high for comfort, the cabinet shelves are of unmatched depths, a bin is deeper than an arm can reach, a Formica countertop lies uselessly on the floor, a wall divides the second room for no apparent reason.
The upstairs rooms in 1414 Monterey were at one time residential, domestic places that have since been remodeled to make public space, a gallery. Standing in these rooms, it is evident that the remodeling involved some procedure of cutting out, building, painting over. There is a vague sense that the old, repainted surfaces are an obscured record of many lives.
The items that were built for this installation are conventional furnishings, containers for household things. They are part of or separate from the existing architecture to different degrees. There is a range of separateness, from wall, to closet, to cabinet, to countertop, to shelf, to table, to box.
These furnishings add to the rooms, in the sense that they are things in them; it is clear what has been built and not built. But because they are containers, they are background. Also because the material is bland and bare, and because the built-in items are built in flush to the walls and floors, they are background. The old walls and floors, with their painted over dents and stains, are richer and more personal.
Certain parts are big enough to stand in: they can be experienced. Others can be looked into but are too small to occupy: they can be analyzed. Some are evidently there but their interiors are not visible: they must be imagined.
The furnishings of the first room are elegant and distant. Some of them have areas that cannot be reached or looked into. The things in the second room are bloated and too near. Their parts are all visible but out of scale, out of place, out of reach in a different way.
A general note: the personal is there in what we build around us, and it is part of what is anonymous and impersonal. Intimacy is part of what is public. Intimacy can be present and not hidden. Intimacy can be nameless and stare right back at you.
Mathieu Gregoire creates both large scale public projects and smaller installations using found and fabricated objects. He has taught in the visual arts departments of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of California, San Diego. Gregoire has also managed the commissioning and acquisition of art at the University of California, San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus, the Stuart Collection at UCSD and Stanford University.