Thursday, May 22, 2008

Matt Mahurin

When I was a young art dealer in Los Angeles, some 20 years ago I traveled to New York to meet Matt Mahurin. Matt was a photographic hero of mine. His work was full of emotion and subtext. It was dark and gritty and his prints were toned apparitions of dreams and nightmares and amazing worlds that crossed the grain of traditional editorial photography.

We had first met in a darkroom I was working at in Santa Monica in '89. He came in to make a print for Matthew Modine (the actor). I knew who Matt was, and I introduced myself. The print he made was amazing. He told me everything was done in his camera. I wanted to press him for details, but sometimes magic is best left to imagination so I shut up.

Matt Mahurin started out at Otis Institute in LA. He soon landed illustration jobs for the LA Times Op/Ed Section. Every week a new illustration would appear and people took notice. The illustrations were hand drawn, burnished, painted, scratched and were friggin powerfully amazing. Then he set out to translate his illustration to photography. This was 1989ish, Photoshop was a billion years away. His portrait work was soon sought after and he began a career shooting rockstars.

Countless album covers and magazine shoots later, he thought that what he was doing could work on film, so he started to make videos.

The first videos he did (music videos) didn't even have rockstars in them. They were art films snippets of film he shot on 8mm or 16mm stock just driving down the street or things he set up. Soon it got more complicated, but his work was groundbreaking for music video (which had been boring "Live" action concert footage or silly Huey Lewis dribble). Artist vision was introduced to music video as a solid component of the song. A component that didn't really mimic the song story line, but created an interpretation of.

So I went to see Matt in NY. I showed him my work and he showed me the prints from his first book. I felt a little bit in awe. I asked him if he would like to show in my gallery in LA, he said that he had just been offered a show at a gallery (a big one) right down the street from me. It was a wonderful private star studded opening. I walked in with Jodie Foster. My friends inside were floored when Jodie whispered something in my ear (I forget what it was...something like "you're standing on my foot").

Time moved on for all of us. Matt's work switched to digital and he now creates amazing digital illustrations based on his photographs. His work is on the Cover of Time all the time.

I talked to him last year. I wanted to bring him into the gallery. He told me no one would want to see his work. I told him he was quite mistaken.

He is now directing films. His documentary "I like killing Flies" is amazing (check it out on netflix). And I think he just finished another film. And he did a number of PSA's like H2...

Reason for my post is I was talking to a curator friend of mine about film work and he popped into my mind. So, while he was still fresh in my head, I wanted to put him here for you to see.

Here is his film version of Unforgiven by Metallica.
its 12 minutes long and I still love looking at it.

Wish me luck as I try and get him to send me a video collection for the gallery!

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