Sydney , 2003
oil on polyester
Sarah Cottier Gallery, Sydney
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2003
Matthys Gerber, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 22 September-6 December 2015
N Bullock, Matthys Gerber, MCA, exh. cat. illus.
Gerber's Sydney is a work that combines Pop Art and Post-Modernism in a contemporary combination of colour, text and geometric grids. The painting playfully teases the perceived failings of the city that Gerber calls his home, with the smug declaration '...Sydney it COULD be soooo GOOD'. Combining sign-writing sloganism with aspects of high abstraction, Gerber's slick painting style and his attention to form and paint surface creates an emotionally-lacking image, which imbues his work with a sense of superficiality or heavy irony depending on the perspective of the viewer. In this work, a number of Gerber's influences are apparent, including the smooth plasticity of Kippenberger and Koons, and the hybrid style of Francis Picabia. Gerber's often cited reference to the music of The Beatles is also evidenced in the rhythmic patterning of the canvas.
Born in the Netherlands in 1956 and based in Australia since 1971, Matthys Gerber is an artist known for his paintings, collages and installations that push the boundaries of the medium of painting through the use of experimentation, contradictory styles and collaboration. He is an accomplished painter who uses a variety of techniques ranging from photo-realist kitsch to geometric abstraction.
Perhaps the most definitive quality of Gerber's practice is the chameleon-like characteristic in which his work shifts and evolves into new forms that hybridise existing styles and techniques. Through his work, Gerber humorously interrogates the very nature of image-making and the possibilities it represents, merging popular cultural references with layered art historical allusions.
Gerber has received two major surveys of his work, first at the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, Adelaide (1998) and most recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2015), with an accompanying self-titled monograph. Aside from his practice as an artist, Gerber has taught extensively at the Sydney College of the Arts.