Matt Hendon’s ongoing body of work in mixed media, Everything That Can Expire, is about challenging himself: first, to reimagine what it means to work with images instead of creating drawings or illustrations; and second, to create compositions that complicate his own and his viewers’ visual aesthetic sense. In addition to being a visual artist, Hendon works as a designer, and there are interesting and important overlaps in his multiple areas of production, mainly due to a consistent process. In response to a question about the overlaps in his ways of working with images—collage, advertising, and graphic arts—Hendon noted: “I wanted to start seeing myself as more of a visual person, or as simply a designer.”
Third Pilot (2013), part of the Expire series, is a small mixed-media collage. Third Pilot has a faux Polaroid in the center of the composition: an image of a fighter jet resting on a scenic yet nonsensical runway, with two disembodied, smiling heads appearing to rest on the surface of the jet. A series of tiny identical figures walk, with heads downcast, toward the right of the composition. Most of these tiny men are nearing the edge of the composition, with some having already partially disappeared. The central image sharply contrasts with the powder-pink and blue background that surrounds it, creating a sickly scene in which the two heads gaze outward in a simultaneously voyeuristic and authoritative manner, as though presiding over both the plane and the semi-immaterial world surrounding it.
In another work from the same series, Almost Blue (2012), Hendon again combines recognizable imagery, abstract patterning, and a number of traditional devices used in landscape painting—perspective, shading, scale—to make a form of alternative scenery that resides somewhere between concrete and abstract. Hand-drawn cows, shadowy and aloof, graze the foreground of Hendon’s imaginary vista while hard, blue geometric DNA-like shapes mix with features of the landscape and a distant salmon-pink and sky-blue mountain—colors that reoccur in other collages from the series. The background is where the work’s title, Almost Blue, begins to come into perspective as a grid of saturated blue hues fades from light to almost black, and stands in for a sky in the dwindling moments before nightfall.
Kingthing (2013) strikes a different note but adheres to Hendon’s chosen process. Incorporating heavier layering of both pigment and cut paper, Kingthing reads like a page from a homemade book, particularly as it features a cryptic yet apropos passage of text. The text is shaped like two newspaper columns, but they have been reversed, making the words a slow and thought-provoking read. The text begins: “Everyone wants to be popular. Well I suppose there might be a certain fascination in being unpopular—but I guess the point is simply that art as art is not, or ought not to be, anyway a popularity context. Art is about something else…” The artist has used an image of a tropical plant in the middle of the work that looks like a screen print.
These works all feel strangely familiar, as if seen dozens of times, yet simultaneously appear to be deeply personal, like entries in a journal that Matt Hendon is using to explore and illustrate his personal vision of the world. Hendon’s commitment to an organized and design-informed simplicity, combined with painterly conventions and recognizable yet collaged imagery, runs throughout this series and provides a level of engaging, subtle continuity and visual texture.
Matt Hendon is an artist, designer, and illustrator living and working in Los Angeles, California. Hendon has a BFA in illustration from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and his work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Los Angeles.