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ADVANCING THE ARTS ACROSS MARYLAND

MATTHEW FREEL

MATTHEW FREEL

Artist Work

Jack Johnson (Invisible Man)
2009
Mixed media on panel
78" x 60"
Shadowboxing
2007
Watercolor on paper attached to panel
20" x 26"
Johnson v. Burns
2007
Watercolor on paper attached to panel
46" x 60"
Jack Johnson
2008
Oil on canvas
24" x 34"
Untitled (Boxers)
2008
Mixed media on photocopy
11" x 8"
Untitled (Fight)
2008
Oil on canvas
78" x 52"

Artist Information

County
Baltimore City
Artistic Category

Visual Arts

Artist Statement

Ninety-nine years ago, the boxer Jack Johnson beat Tommy Burns in a title match, making Johnson the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. This series of work uses Jack Johnson as a historical, metaphoric, and visual starting point. It sparks a confrontation between the past and present implications of having a black man as the most powerful figure in sports or as Eldridge Clever put it, “the ultimate focus of masculinity in America”. Questions of race, history, and guilt are forced upon the artist and, consequently, the viewer. In addition to addressing power in terms of race, the image of the muscular male figure explores masculinity and its relationship to physical strength and (racial) power. Though the works share similar impeti, they develop through the act of painting into autonomous pieces, carrying original concepts in different ways and to different degrees. Some works directly reference their subject matter, some carry it as a vital but veiled undertone. In all cases, the work insists first and foremost on emotionally seizing the viewer - it seeks a gut reaction that will prompt one to pursue further understanding.

Artist Bio

EDUCATION M.F.A. - School of Visual Arts - New York, NY B.F.A. - Washington University in St. Louis - St. Louis, MO