Matt Condron's interest in art began behind the lens of his 35mm camera. However due to deficient printing methods and dissatisfying results during the advent of the digital switch in the process, Condron's interest shifted from the camera to the canvas. For more than a decade, Matt Condron has painted unoccupied objects with reverence for his subject and astonishing technical prowess. His painstakingly rendered images of vacant chairs invite viewers to share a moment of quiet with him. Condron is captivated by the idea of emptiness, as both a suggestion of solitude and as a state rife with the possibilities of change and fulfillment. He seeks out familiar scenes, often incorporating imagery based on his own nostalgia. By choosing places that seem to have been abruptly vacated, he attempts to awaken a connection to the moment before, or to the quietude he preserves inside himself in the form of memories.

Vikki Cruz
Curator, Bakersfield Museum of Art
May, 2013


Finding or creating a sense of place is also the main focus of Matt Condron's realistic paintings. Recalling the linear manner of straight-on photography, his work should not be lumped together with photo-realism since it has a light-handed painterly texture and a narrative that viewers can augment with their own imagination. Take for example, a row of plastic bucket seats, the kind found in coin-laundries or gas stations. Condron has transformed those seats into bright yellow confections that resemble the pricey hard candy found in upscale patisseries or that might grace a modernist designer's showroom (Eames, anyone?).

A realist painter, he achieves such transformations though the power of his technique and a spot-on eye for color. Lest the arrangement transgress into saccharine, the depiction of a large chain bolting it to the floor brings one back to the realities of life in the lower echelons. Then again, he transforms the interior of a school bus into a realistically rendered and somewhat abstracted composition of light, color and form. Condron has hued the interplay of shadow and light on the seats surface in a way that makes one speculate what its occupants might see had they indulged in a few hallucinogens soft oranges and pinks livened with a bit of red set against the monochromatic desert-scape seen through the windows. He is drawn to architectural settings gas stations, train depots, hotels and stark interiors and he calls them misanthropic scenes since he has no interest in painting people. However, one will note a preponderance of chairs or other seating arrangements which he says are stand-ins for people since face it, we spend a lot of time sitting. Nor does he have any interest in abstraction. I am strictly a representational painter he says, adding that he works from photographs. Like a photographer, I compose through the lens and, in the studio, commit myself to the scene. This means that he hardly makes any alterations, except for perhaps eliminating superfluous objects and errant people. He expects viewers to supply the human element by interacting with scenarios that, at times, reflect inner complexity and a bit of angst as evident in the melancholy composition 'Recovering'.

Condron says that he has made only 60 paintings to date, describing the process of technical learning and inner discovery as slow. And, unlike more experienced painters, he is not hung-up on process or blathering endlessly about it. For him, it's all about getting out what had been inside him since early adolescence. The same confidence that drives his painting also propelled him into his first solo show in 2001, followed by group shows as far afield as New York and Alabama. Peter Blake, after seeing several works in print and one actual painting, included the relative newcomer in this month's three-man show along with Blake veterans Gregg Renfrow and Donnie Molls. 'Peter offered me a show over the telephone, before I even sent that one painting', recalls Condron.

Daniella Walsh
Riviera Magazine
November, 2007