In Partnership with Piano Craft Gallery, 2023
Banner Art detail: Matt Brackett, "One Can Imagine #14"
What makes us human? What binds or breaks us apart? And how do we distinguish between perceived reality and falsehood? These are all questions Matt Brackett poses in his series of imagined fellow citizens, intended as a refection on our current era of social division, disinformation and pandemic. The portraits in this series are not of actual people. Instead, Matt based them on faces generated by an independent web-based algorithm that look lifelike, but in fact don't exist. Matt built digital composites to paint from, adding unclothed torsos rendered in a family of dark blue grays. While representing a broad range of ages, genders, races and ethnicities, his aim was to emphasize an underlying vulnerability and parity among the portraits. These images, like all painting, embody a fction, but Matt wanted to seek a form of truth: if traditional portraiture reveals the soul of the sitter, perhaps these portraits instead reveal the soul of the viewer. Before a gallery of these paintings, we have a chance to refect on what else we perceive as real or true. Have we been made to see each other as unknowable, even alien? What is the true nature of the information we absorb to make assumptions about each other and our realities? Perhaps it's possible to come back to the eyes as key here; they are particularly bright in channeling a certainty that we are intertwined and interbalanced.
America has always struggled to live up to its ideals – so much so, that it is this very struggle that defnes America, and not the founding principles. We can ask ourselves if we will narrow our rifts by siding with truth over fanaticism, with compassion over fear. Will we change our country by beginning with ourselves? One can imagine.
Brackett was born in Berkeley, CA and received a Bachelor's degree in painting from Yale University in 1997 where he was the recipient of the Ethel Childe Walker Prize. His work has been shown nationally in galleries and museums, including the Danforth Museum of Art, MA; The Aqua Wynwood, FL; the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture, CA; The DeCordova Museum, MA; The Merchandise Mart, IL; the Brattleboro Museum, VT; Yale University Art Gallery, CT. He has also been featured in New American Painting’s juried exhibition in print, issues #38, #56 and #80.
Brackett is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the George Sugarman Foundation. He has won a Certifcate of Excellence from the American Portrait Society and has held residencies at Yaddo and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Brackett’s work appears in the collection of Wellington Management in Boston, the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham, MA, and numerous private collections in the U.S., India, Germany and England.