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Just Passing Through
Artist Matthew Crumpton at Fancy & Staple
By Rebecca Stockert
Fort Wayne Reader
Artist Matthew Crumpton’s Crumpton’s work has a lowbrow west coast aesthetic, echoing visual cues of the early 20th century Futurist Movement. If you saw and loved the Juxtapoz and Robert Williams exhibits currently on display at Fort Wayne Museum of Art, you’ve got to check out Crumpton’s show Just Passing Through before it comes down. Art buyers should hurry over, as his show is almost sold out.
Crumpton couples vibrant pastel colors and supple black linework (we can see an echo of artist Crystal Wagner, to whom Crumpton was an assistant). This combination results in paintings reminiscent of a 1980s visual graphics joined with current trends in urban street art. The pastel colors edge on, and occasionally marry, neon, displaying Crumpton’s mastery utilizing small tonal ranges to create vivid, colorful works. His ability to use nearly every hue on the color chart, coupled with the use of short tonal ranges to create a deeply harmonized work of art is truly remarkable. The subtleties of tonal ranges within his works is made more poignant in that the colors are so bold, yet pastel: an unexpected experience.
The energy of Crumpton’s work, jumping around the the picture plane with swooping shapes, bouncing shadows, and sharp turns, mirrors Crumpton’s own experience he has created for his daily life: “I graduated college in 2012 and just have been on the move ever since. Moving coast to coast, with just a duffle bag and backpack. Sometimes having a closet for a room and traveling for work, to do 10-14 day projects. So I became very accustomed to things changing around me. New people, new environments, being always on the move trying to discover where I would get my coffee in the morning. Knowing it was all going to change soon, took away so much pressure of a daily grind. There was always a new adventure, a new place to explore.”
Crumpton’s ever-on-the-move lifestyle is keenly reflected in Just Passing Through, both in name and content. The echo of the Futurist-like movement (think Giacomo Balla’s The Car has Passed) aesthetic gives the feeling of rushing by. Looking at the works, we can imagine the artist seated in a moving train with the passing world reflecting on the glass or shuddering with the plane while lifting off a runway, staring out the window with sketchbook and pencil in hand. He has, indeed, lived in 6 states and 8 different cities in the past 5 years.
Though his work is deeply visually layered, the artist claims not to start with any sketches. His process begins with him drawing directly onto the substrate and following where it leads. We can see the deep layering of colors and shapes in the works of art, each creating a deep, cavernous, cultural echo. And, just as the name suggests, the contextual imagery suggests a rapid passing.
Crumpton explains the energy and layering of his works references flipping through channels of cartoons as a kid (an experience that may elicit nostalgic feelings in some readers and also a nod to the lowbrow movement). This, though nostalgic, is reflected in today’s world of social media with the constant scrolling, clicking, and closing of tabs. In this way, Crumpton’s work is at once a nibble of kitschy, American cultural history and an expression of the current omnipresent, staggering vortex of information we are all learning to navigate.
Fort Wayne is lucky to have Crumpton’s work, both for the exhibit at Fancy & Staple, and in collector’s homes into the future. Owner of the boutique, Taber Olinger, says about the show “I never imagined that the Fancy & Staple gallery would ever evolve into what it is today...and I have Josef Zimmerman to thank for ALL of that. He has brought in some truly epic talent and this next artist, Matthew Crumpton, is especially kickass. I literally can't wait for everyone to see it and snag this one titled No Loose Ends for myself!”
Fort Wayne was able to ‘snag’ Crumpton for the show, in part, with the help of Zimmerman’s keen eye, who works as a Curator of Contemporary Art for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and curator for Fancy & Staple. Crumpton was assisting with an installation of Crystal Wagner’s show in 2016 at the FWMoA. Spending 12 to 15 hours a day in the flurry of an exhibition installation together, Crumpton and Zimmerman formed a fruitful relationship. When asked why he invited Crumpton to show at Fancy & Staple, Zimmerman said: “His every growing style and body of work made it easy to choose him. His evolution as an artists will continue to push him on and I wanted to be at the start of it.”
Crumpton graduated from Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2012 with a BA in graphic design and printmaking. He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
Just Passing Through, hangs at Fancy & Staple, 1111 Broadway, through August 5.
See more of Crumpton’s work on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crumpton_/