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Matthew Metzger, The Condition, 2015, acrylic and oil on fiberglass honeycomb panel, 26 × 26". From the series “The Condition,” 2015.

Matthew Metzger

Arratia Beer

Matthew Metzger, The Condition, 2015, acrylic and oil on fiberglass honeycomb panel, 26 × 26". From the series “The Condition,” 2015.

What is the relation between abstract and figurative painting, and how do we read abstraction some fifty years after the twilight of Abstract Expressionism? These questions seem to be at the heart of Matthew Metzger’s practice, and they connect the quite diverse works in his recent exhibition “The Shade of a Line.”

In two works from the series “The Condition,” 2015, we see the image of a machete, with the aged metal blade and wooden grip rendered in fine detail. The knife is positioned in the paintings’ middle, stretching to the panels’ left and right edges, forming a horizon and cutting the paintings in half. In both works, it appears against a gray background; the dark shadow underneath exaggerate the more-or-less curved shape of each machete. Metzger came to this motif while reflecting on the physical gestures that are involved in mark-making—how some painters, such as

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