Matt Magee: Random Order

26 February - 15 May 2021


February 26–May 15, 2021


Friday, February 26, 2pm (MT) / 4pm (EST)

With Print Curator Kylee Aragon Wallis


February 26–May 15, 2021




(February 2021) Zane Bennett Contemporary Art is delighted to announce Random Order by American conceptual and experimental artist Matt Magee. Random Order marks the first solo exhibition of Magee’s work at the gallery. A virtual artist talk between Magee and Print Curator Kylee Aragon Wallis will be held over Instagram Live on Opening Day, Friday, February 26 at 2pm (MT). An accompanying Satellite Show of works completed during the artist’s 2019 residency with Michael Woolworth in Paris will also be on view at the offices of Radius Books throughout the duration of Random OrderMagee’s monograph with Radius Books will be available for purchase through the gallery. A book signing event in collaboration with Radius will be announced soon, to be held in early May. Random Order is currently open by appointment: email or call (505) 982-8111 to schedule a masked visit.


A selection of predominantly never-before-seen pieces that focus on the artist’s ongoing interest in playful permutations of bold forms and repurposed unconventional materials will be featured. Magee’s prolific and thoughtful output positively buzzes—like the grids and information systems he often visualizes—with forward-thinking ideas and art historical riffs. Double Pyramid Thought Form, for example, is a colorful take on Sol LeWitt’s optical iterations, Hilma af Klint’s mystical formalism and Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater’s color theory studies and their relation to emotion. Thought Form assumes new meaning when situated near his Block Hanger works, a series of methodically wired and cut detergent bottles culled from Mexican laundermats in west Phoenix. Magee is an avid scavenger for new sculptural materials, a practice that started in the late 1970s when he was collecting shredded tire parts from the highways outside of Houston, Austin and Dallas. Writer and curator Thomas Cvikota describes Magee’s explorations as an “omnivorous practice,” the result of which is an idiosyncratic symbol system of ever-evolving meaning. In Equations, a triptych that serves as the show’s anchor, we see the artist reformulating this vivid vernacular yet again. Using paper that has been run through an old school Xerox machine and coated in black ink toner “[the works] highlight a new use of repurposed media and are evocative of the path forward,” says the artist. “The language is not quite Braille but definitely tactile and experiential.”


Magee’s use of non-traditional materials, such as metal and aluminum cans and mica, suggest a relinquishing of control, but it is his steady intention and precision that forms the backbone. While inspiration from painters and sculptors of the 1950s and 1960s are important to Magee’s practice, personal history and the artist’s hand are the primary tools that build (and break down) the various systems of meaning seen in this exhibition. The artist explains “Language is fluid and as I continue to explore various media, including social media, to excavate meaning and assess the temperature of the moment, objects and paintings emerge.” In this new body of work, Magee seems to underscore this fact by its very diversity.


Matt Magee, born 1961 in Paris, France, is an American contemporary artist best known for his broad experimentation with abstract and conceptual art practices. He was Phoenix Art Museum’s 2017 winner of the Arlene and Mort Scult Award; printmaking resident at Woolworth Publications Paris (2019, 2020); Josef and Anni Albers Foundation resident fellow (2007, 2015), Tamarind Institute printmaking resident (2013, 2016); New York Foundation for the Arts painting grant recipient (2002); and was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant (1991). His work has been shown worldwide and can be found in numerous public and private collections, including the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; Museum of Fine Arts Houston; Phoenix Art Museum; Tucson Museum of Art; JP Morgan Chase Collection, New York; Robert  Rauschenberg Foundation, New York; Goldman Sachs, New York; Jasper Johns, CT; and Warner Bros., Burbank, CA; among many others.  Matt Magee currently lives and works in Arizona.



Founded in 2007 by David Chickey, Darius Himes, David Skolkin, and Joanna Hurley, Radius Books publishes 18-20 new titles of artistic and cultural value every year. Through their publication, education, and donation programs, Radius creates and promotes an ongoing dialogue among writers, thinkers, and artists, and has gifted over 75,000 thoughtfully crafted books to libraries, schools, and art programs across the US.