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Vincent Fecteau / MATRIX 199

Recent Sculpture

August 8, 2002 - October 6, 2002

Vincent Fecteau: Untitled, 2002; mixed media; 10 x 15 x 19 1/2 inches; courtesy of the artist and Feature Inc.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF) .

Vincent Fecteau is a San Francisco–based artist known for his small–scale, meticulously hand–assembled two– and three– dimensional objects. His early works are subtle interventions into found images; featuring collage elements, often pasted onto foamcore structures, they take inspiration from popular culture, sappy commercial photography, and architecture and design journals. One series used thousands of magazine cutouts of cat faces pasted onto the wall and stacked on the floor. Such collage works function more as drawings than as sculptures. More recent works, however, focus on the structures themselves.

The works in Fecteau's MATRIX exhibition, though fully realized sculptures in their own right, suggest themselves as maquettes for much larger projects. They are crafted from the simple, disposable materials of the architectural model (foamcore, cardboard, balsa wood), and punctuated by found materials such as aluminum foil, a paperclip, a rubber band, and half a walnut. If seen as models, they are models for impossible structures; a dynamic tension is thus set up between the object presented to the viewer and the imagined structure it evokes. In them I have variously seen a stage set, decomposing rural outbuildings, and ultra-hip architecture as if found in the middle of nowhere. As Artforum critic Bruce Hainley has written, "the pieces proffer an utterly idiosyncratic baroque."

Fecteau likes to play with conventions within the art world, such as the desire to name things in order to know or understand them; how art objects age, and how works in the homes of collectors often sport a cobweb or two. He deliberately imbues his most recent works with a slightly messy quality that is visible only up close. Though at a distance each sculpture seems to mirror a slick, clean design aesthetic, the surface tells a different story. Splintered chips of wood, dust, and sticky patches of dried glue thwart the viewer's expectations and present a rigorous challenge to the traditional aesthetics of "museum–quality" art. In contrast to some of his peers, however, Fecteau's seeming challenge to institutional authority is not mocking or ironic. He participates in the continual redefinition of art because he believes in art and in its power. He has said, "One of the most beautiful things about art (is) the faith or will that can make a rubber band or a pushpin the location of all this meaning and at the same time acknowledge the limitations of its reality." Fecteau's MATRIX exhibition, his first solo museum show, will include approximately fourteen works; of these, six are new works, and eight are works created in 2000 and 2001. Fecteau is featured in the 2002 Whitney Biennial and was included in a recent survey of Bay Area drawings titled Marked, presented at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and the Hunter College Art Galleries in New York. He has had solo gallery exhibitions at greengrassi, London; Feature, New York; Mark Foxx, Los Angeles; and Paule Anglim, San Francisco. Artforum cited his greengrassi show as one of the best of 2000.

Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson
Phyllis Wattis Matrix Curator

The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by the generous endowment gift of Phyllis Wattis.

Additional donors to the MATRIX Program include the UAM Council MATRIX Endowment, Ann M. Hatch, Eric McDougall, ,Glenn and April Bucksbaum, and Chriss Vroom and Illya Szilak.