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Matthew Freel

Matthew Freel

Artist Work

Apollo (Son of Krypton)
Oil on canvas
24" x 18"
Nuclear Prometheus (Firestorm)
Oil and acrylic on canvas
96" x 52"
Incident in the City (Black Lightning)
Oil on polypropylene
40" x 30"
Watercolor on polypropylene
24" x 36"
Amazon Safari
Oil on canvas
52" x 78"
Johnson v Burns.
Watercolor on paper mounted on panel
46" x 60"

Artist Information

Baltimore City
Artistic Category

Visual Arts

Artist Statement

I create paintings and drawings portraying figures inspired by Superheroes, history, & mythology. They are often flawed heroes, engaged in both noble and abhorrent acts, reflecting the grey area that each of us occupies between saint and villain. They affirm the necessity and hardship of our efforts at greatness. I visualize this, for example, by portraying Theodore Roosevelt as an Imperialist Warrior-Preacher and Herculean rhino-slayer. I simultaneously reference his contributions as a fierce naturalist, courageous General and inspirational President. The paint itself acts as both representation and gestural mark; TR’s rhino is both an important metaphoric animal and a chance to paint a hulking, tragically beautiful image of flesh. Underlying other works is a search for identity within the morality of American history. Images of violent lynchings must be confronted and the stories of forgotten legends such as the boxer Jack Johnson reinforce that our past is full of dark and terrible events as well as true ideals. History is also mythologized (as with our collective memory) and ancient stories merge with contemporary myths. In one work Superman becomes Apollo; in another the Golem of Jewish mythology is represented as emerging from the cosmos instead of clay. Formally, realism & abstraction share space as coexisting ideals. I aim to create narratives representations as visceral, captivating confrontations with these multifaceted figures.

Artist Bio

Born in Columbus, Ohio, I drew superheroes before studying Painting and Art History at Washington University in St. Louis. My study included a semester in Florence, Italy and continued into graduate school at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. I currently live in Baltimore where I was a resident artist at School 33 Art Center from 2008 - 2011. I have exhibited in various states and was a finalist for Miami University’s William & Dorothy Yeck Young Painter’s Award in 2013. My work still addresses the heroic figure through mythology, American history & personal experience.