Matthew Cronin Contorted Interiors

Apr 24–May 7, 2020
Online Exhibition

An online exhibition by student scholar Ema Furusho, focusing on artist Matthew Cronin

There is something wrong in this house. There are warm saturated patterns and homely light, but the reflections in mirrors lead to different spaces, objects bleed into one another, and light streams in from an unknown outside. It is as if the room is rejecting itself from within, poisoned by some underlying source. In Dwelling, Matthew Cronin uses inconsistency of space as a constant thread. The contorted objects in these constructed rooms simultaneously entice and repel the viewer, disrupting the comfort of what appears at first to be a comfortable domestic space.

Cronin constructs the photographs from transparencies produced for JCPenny catalogues from the 70’s that he came across in the summer of his final year at the University of Texas’s MFA program. During this time, he was considering how to make photographs without using a camera and pivoting to a process of constructing photographs rather than finding them. Cronin uses the transparencies as source material, montaging them through processes of multiple exposures and digital manipulation. Often, the transparency’s discoloration from age appears directly in the final image, creating the sickly saturated hues of the patterns and furniture. Through this collage process, Cronin reconsiders the ideologies being sold via the objects, drawing out the particularity and exclusivity of class, taste, and aspirations that they put forth, drawing inspiration from his own upbringing in a working-class family.

Some of the most prominent inconsistencies throughout the project are light and outside space. There always seems to be light streaming in from outside, casting shapes across the interior with familiar warmth. In Dwelling 05, light filters through a garden fence-like structure, posing as a bedroom wall. The domestic setting is inverted. Despite the firmness of the meticulously made bed, the room begins to feel porous, there is a lack of structural integrity to the image. As the object and materials collapse, the reliability of the presented lifestyle is questioned.

When we are finally shown a window to the outside, in Dwelling 03, it is a stubbornly flat composited image that peers back at us from between the window panes. Playful misalignment of space creates a distinctive and unsettling experience.

Cronin’s manipulated interiors reflect the particularity of the American middle-class aspirations being sold through the interior decor catalogue. Through the contortion of time and space, it is presented as a beautiful yet unreliable fever dream.

Participating Artist

  1. Matthew Cronin lives and works in New York. He holds an MFA in Studio Art from University of Texas at Austin as well as a BFA in Photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Cronin uses a variety of photographic techniques to reimagine preexisting imagery. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States at institutions such as the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Visual Arts Center, Austin. He has lectured in the photography at several Universities, including the University of Texas at Austin.