When the Ashcan movement was at its height in the late 19th and early 20th century, it was a departure from Impressionists in that it was one of the first times realism was, indeed, real in the American sense. They focucsed on a more seedy and working class side of NYC, nightlife and workers and city scenes not often depicted in painting. Matt Bollinger, the contemporary Ithaca-based painter and animator has that Ashcan spirit in his work; in an era of figurative and portrait painting, he is focusing on a more lost sense of the middle class and the American Dream. And he paints it both with care and careful observation.
His latest solo show, Station, opening at François Ghebaly, isn’t a radical departure from his insightful and profound look into a certain kind of middle class America, but its just as refined and cinematic. Not only are the new works showcased alongside his 2017 stop-motion short film, Between the Days, they also themselves feel more and more like film stills, with a sense of movement and wonder of what is left off the screen. An arm appears off canvas, the tip of boat ambles by, a sanitation worker comes into frame. They are like dreams that can’t quite come into focus, a story of America that sort of lies underneath what the Dream is supposed to be. This is more of what reality has become. —Evan Pricco