"War Never Ends" | 2005 | foam, wax, brass, pigment, pencil, paper, charcoal, glass and drywall | 88 x 17.5 x 17.5 inches | The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, purchased with funds provided by the Curatorial Discretionary Fund

Illuminations: Ones to Watch


Matthew Monahan, a California-born sculptor, creates commentary figures in parts — a lolling head, a tortured torso, dangling legs — each separated and hauntingly encased in its own vitrine. His figurative and abstract sculptures, depicted from foam, wax, paper, paint, glitter, wood and string, placed in handmade pedestals, are often pieces remade from previous works. Monahan’s ability to combine modern images with anachronistic ideals in his assemblages (that are not quite to scale) creates a foreboding friction within each piece.

Using a language incorporated from both ancient art history and idiomatic vernacular, Monahan’s references cross from personal to universal and back again. The human body encoded as icons and totems, reaches for black places where myth and faith collide. Playing with the notion of space and the representation of his own work within a faux tomb, his sculpture beckons both hopeful undertaking and disturbing, unbearable suffering, dragging the viewer to an inevitable question of self awareness and finally to a spiritual grounding.

Monahan has shown his work in New York City, Amsterdam and in London, as well as having had a recent comprehensive showing of his complete body of work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, one in a series of shows featuring challenging new and diverse work by up-and-coming artists. His work has also been included in the Whitney’s 2006 Biennial and the Berlin Biennial, and is included in the collection at the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Museum in London.

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