He began by casting the nozzles of his pop art hued spray paint cans onto New York City’s subway trains as a teen. Then, over the span of three decades, he transferred his vibrant graffiti and artful tagging to canvas and Fender guitars. He has been honored through art exhibitions in Amsterdam, Prague, Greece and the Modern Museum of Art.
Now, the works of graffiti pioneer John ‘CRASH’ Matos are on display in the exhibit “CRASH: From the 4 Train to Fenders — A Retrospective” at the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery in the Quick Center for the Arts.
Matos’ work evokes a wide range of styles that he blends to compose a style all his own — the bright colors of pop art, the immediate nature of expressionism, the segmentation of cubism, and the unique medium of spray paint. His art “deftly …[simplifies] images, like that of an airplane’s spinning propeller into the workings of some cosmic machinery,” according to an article in The New York Times.
“Growing up in my hood, you noticed what’s around you, and graff was the design,” Matos said of the influence he got growing up in the South Bronx.
“The one thing that really impressed me was the student interest with the exhibit,” said Michele Maggiore ’10, who attended the opening night of the show on Jan. 28.
The show consists of fresh and dynamic works of his forte — spray paint on linen or canvas — including “Epoca,” “Art of Steel,” “Regal Blues,” and “After Broadway Boogie Woogie.” Matos defines his ability to experiment and evolve by mastering other techniques and mediums such as watercolors, acrylics, oil paints and pastels.
Matos has been featured at the Sidney Janis Gallery, one of the hottest art galleries in Manhattan where names such as Warhol, Lichtenstein and Rosenquist were shown. He is known for his vibrantly spray-painted guitars — which he dubs the Crashocasters — and has painted backdrops and murals for the likes of the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo and the new Esplanade in Singapore.
“Exciting, inventive new artworks loom on the horizon,” professor of art history Philip Eliasoph said in a brochure that accompanied the show. “We are joyously confident in knowing CRASH is still a vibrant force — and has no sign of being ‘burned.’”
Matos’ work will be on display in the Thomas J. Walsh Gallery in the Quick Center for the Arts until Feb. 28. Hours are: Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.