Title: United States in Crystal
Dimensions: width: 120cm height: 80cm depth: 4cm
Notes: copper sulfate crystal solution grown on canvas
Country: United Kingdom
Matt Gee was born in Reading in 1988 and graduated with a Master’s in Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Art in 2012. He’s exhibited in galleries based in Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Karlsruhe and Prague, and recently curated an exhibition in London. Gee examines a fascination for the elements within society’s demanding modern materialistic culture and the sensory routes of this decadent desire. Pairing artificial and natural in paradox within the work, Gee heightens curiosity to question our understanding of and relationship with severe global environmental issues including pollution and contamination. Applying this dichotomy of synthetic vs. authentic to methods of imitation, replication and manipulation, and finally elevating this with recognised methods of display; objects become realised for their inherent disparate aesthetic qualities, technologies and physicality. Photographs of naturally occurring processes, and seductive textures confronting organic form with manmade properties influence the work as well as human behaviour and its relationship to them.
Bending, melting, tearing and crushing become polite processes to combine incongruous objects, seamlessly unified with geometric alignments, and associations of colour and form. A language of neon perspex and washed up seashells appear as a binding construct and note to ‘endurance’ through the work. Crystals are also a key composite. Naturally evolving in irregular patterns, Gee cultivates their growth on surfaces to replicate familiar human illustrations as a commentary on geopolitical affairs.
The resultant compositions are uncomfortable and jarring, yet symmetrically pleasing exotic treasures. Addressing the uncanny perception of material with a truthful articulation, the work diagnoses our current object-based obsessions, directing them intimately closer and simultaneously more distant under inspection.
Copper Sulfate crystals are like any crystals in the way they grow organically from the application of a solution on to a surface. However, Matt Gee has developed a process which can hold the crystal solution, thus cultivating the growth into a geometric formation with sharp edges. This is a demonstration of how the free element can be controlled by the inhabited human.
United States in Crystal is a statistical diagram illustrating the levels of usage of Crystal meth in all the various states of the USA, a country with the highest usage in the world.
The more crystal sulfate grown on a state, then the higher percentage of crystal meth usage in that state, in the same way icons of people and children represent population on a geographical statistical map. The resulting map on canvas is as accurate as possible, but as with any statistical representative map there is a margin of error, particularly apparent due to the organic nature of the growing crystals.
United States in Crystal presents juxtaposition visually and conceptually. The result is a canvas projecting glistening beauty before the viewer, yet also portraying a dark and harrowing epidemic which desperately needs to be tackled.
Crystal meth is a mass problem in the USA. Originally the drug was medically prescribed for disorders such as ADHD, but then became an underground designer drug, which is heavily addictive. In terms of production, a shocking statistic is that in the state of Indiana 6 labs were found in 1995, then 1260 were found in 2003.