• Drifting Fronds, 2013 - Matt Shane Drifting Fronds, 2013 - Matt Shane
  • Edge City, 2013 - Matt Shane Edge City, 2013 - Matt Shane
  • Lagoon, 2013 - Matt Shane Lagoon, 2013 - Matt Shane

Buildings, too, are Children of Earth and Sun | Matt Shane

May 7th 2013 to June 6th 2013


The UAE often evokes wonder, seen as a place where even islands and lagoons can be built. This ability to redefine what is possible was immediately apparent to Cuadro resident artist Matt Shane, as was the distinctiveness of the local architectural construction.

His paintings are not indexical representations of places he visited during his time in Dubai and Sharjah. Rather, they are fictionalized interpretations of a shifting urban environment. “These are mercurial grounds,” he states, “at the border of perception and fantasy.”

Shane’s work references the Hudson River School and 19th century European Romantics in its detailed scope and sweeping perspectives. However, unlike their sublime and pastoral depictions, his landscapes are heavy with ominous signs of development, coupling the sublime with an anxiety towards the scale of human impact on the environment. Paradoxically, the effect appears natural, as though an organic urban decay was responsible for the shape-shifting of the structures.

The impact of this destruction evokes a surreal sense of times past – ancient times of the Tower of Babel and even the Pangaea phenomenon. The neglect due to the absence of humanity makes the viewer acutely aware of a contemporary community and social order, whereas the relics of structures built by unseen inhabitants amplifies a dystopian shift in the landscape, which seems to be enforcing a return to its previous state.

“A city – any city, every city – is the eradication, even the ruin, of the landscape from which it rose. In its fall, that original landscape sometimes triumphs.”

(Rebecca Solnit, The Ruins of Memory)

Matt Shane (1981) was born in Vancouver, Canada. On obtaining his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria in 2004, he was named National Winner of the Bank of Montreal’s first Art Competition and received an Emerging Artist Grant from the Imperial Tobacco Artistic Development Board to exhibit a collaborative art project. Shane has co-organized public drawing installations, often involving hundreds of participants, in Los Angeles, Montreal, Victoria, and Canada’s Banff Centre. Most recently, he completed a four-month long drawing installation as part of the 2011 Québec Triennial. Matt Shane has exhibited widely in North America, and has completed artist residencies at Art Omi, the Banff Centre, the Vermont Studio Center and KIAC in Dawson City, Yukon. He is an MFA candidate at Concordia University, and he lives and works in Montréal.