Matt Bahen: The Promise, The Promise

October 10 - November 2, 2019

Opening Reception: Thursday, October 10, 6-8pm

Artist talk with Jayne Wilkinson: Saturday, October 19th at 2 pm


Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings by Matt Bahen. The exhibition will open on October 10th and run until November 2nd with an opening reception on Thursday, October 10th from 6 to 8 pm. The gallery will host an artist talk with Matt Bahen and Jayne Wilkinson, Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Art, on Saturday, October 19th at 2 pm.


We shall not cease from exploring

And at the end of our exploration 
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

- excerpt from Four Quartets byT.S. Eliot


For his second solo exhibition at Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Matt Bahen has created an arresting new body of work that visually references literature – his primary source of inspiration – more than ever before. In addition to T.S. Eliot’s above quote from Four Quartets, Bahen cites author Joseph Campbell’s monomyth theory, that all mythic narratives are variations of a single great story, for influencing the structure behind his latest paintings.


Bahen developed several new motifs found in nature that symbolize the cyclical stages in Campbell’s theory – the hope, the obstacle, the struggle, the aftermath and ultimately, the way out or the return. While each painting encompasses its own narrative, they also belong to a collective narrative as part of the exhibition. Characteristic of all of Bahen’s work, the latest paintings are devoid of human figures while at the same time, demand a visceral response from the viewer. This immediacy is created through a combination of his impasto surfaces and his restless subjects including rushing water, galloping horses, and burning fires. While Bahen extends the tradition of Canadian landscape painting, he also utilizes it as a vessel to communicate his ultimate interest in the power of allegory and metaphor.


The pressure of these paintings moves quickly, accelerating and evolving the limpidity of what we term “landscape,” and inciting drama across otherwise calm planes. In this way Bahen’s paintings work on us like a noise. Like if you pressed your ears to the shoreline near his water-stripped horses, like if you encircled his leaning trees and keened for the wind. The crush of cropping green and moving muscle will help confirm your own smallness, the waste of your constant speaking. You will find something like a stillness among this thrush.

– Sky Goodden


Matt Bahen was born in 1979 in Schomberg, Ontario. He received his BFA from the Ontario College of Art + Design (OCAD) in 2002. In 2013, his solo exhibition, Gravity's Faith, was held at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie. Bahen is represented in Toronto and New York.


For more information on the artist, click here.

To read the complete essay by Sky Goodden, click here.