Matt Bahen: The Strange Garden

November 4 - 27, 2021

Nicholas Metivier Gallery is pleased to announce The Strange Garden, an exhibition of new paintings by Matt Bahen. The exhibition will open on November 4th and run until November 27th. This is Bahen’s third solo exhibition at the gallery.


Literature has been Matt Bahen’s primary source of inspiration throughout his career. He aims to convey the power of allegory and metaphor with paint. While many of his landscapes evoke a particular place, they are constructed, similarly to how set design is used in film, to fit the story being told. 


In The Strange Garden, Bahen adopts the traditional literary device of the enchanted forest or forbidden wood, often used in science fiction and fairy tales. Science fiction treats reality as something that is malleable to express the issues or anxieties of a certain time. For Bahen, landscape and climate change are now conflated and he addresses this notion by combining different types of scenery, such as deserts, marshes, and mountains, to create imagined places that are at once familiar and unnatural.

Bahen also inserts surreal flowers, colourful moss and unexpected colour to activate his landscapes and push the subjects into unfamiliar territory. While Bahen’s paintings are instantly captivating with their impasto surfaces and distant horizons, the compositions gradually unfold as carefully structured visual narratives that depict a more ominous view of nature gone awry. 


"I am not making a documentary; I am making fiction. With fiction, you can tell stories. Stories are not necessarily fact-based, although they often expand and build upon real ideas and events. For me, this is a role that painting fills perfectly. Traditionally, paintings were purposeful, they were allegories. This tradition seems to have all but disappeared, but I believe that painting can continue to play this role."



To watch a short film on Bahen's practice, click here.

To watch a virtual exhibition walkthrough, click here.