Matthew Day Jackson
“I’ve been making furniture as long as I’ve been making sculpture and I think that creating these pieces has always been a continuation of my process”
Chaos and beauty are terms that are rarely put together when describing works of intellectual rigor and craftsmanship, yet they’re both apt descriptions when one assesses Matthew Day Jackson’s Wonky furniture collection. Evolving in parallel to the Hauser & Wirth represented artist’s career, the collection now includes dining and coffee tables, stools, chairs and a "Bardenza," a blue credenza/bar hybrid.
With their lustrous finishes, intriguing surface glitches and vibrant colors, the Wonky collection was the ideal first show to inaugurate The Future Perfect’s latest Los Angeles Casa. For many years Jackson experimented with furniture - or functional art, if you will - with no intention of showing it in an art or design gallery. “I’ve been making furniture as long as I’ve been making sculpture and I think that creating these pieces has always been a continuation of my process,” he says. “Wonky came out of just wanting to make something fun for the house.”
The Kolho Collection by Matthew Day Jackson for Made By Choice.
The pieces within the collection are primarily made from salvaged corrugated cardboard. Cut, combined and reassembled without sophisticated tools, the source material evolves into incredibly sturdy functional works. Throughout this process, Jackson is essentially manipulating something completely prosaic into the realm of the chimerical. “I’m always searching to work with a material that captures speed or urgency; when I’m cutting apart cardboard and then putting it back together and getting it to a point where it’s exciting and has a playfulness to it. When you achieve that perfect form and begin calcifying it and wrapping it in carbon fiber, it can be really exciting.”
Matthew Day Jackson with his Wonky Armchair in process.
Continues the artist: “I’ve always been really interested in taking materials that are commonplace and kind of elevating them into a world of meaning, where you’re kind of being forced to reassess a material, whether it's cardboard or Formica or some old military plane seats,” explains Jackson, referencing Kohlo, a dining collection inspired by NASA’s Project Apollo and a small Finnish town (also on view at the Casa). “I think there’s also something in that which is political and kind of connected to early investigations of Russian Constructivism and the concept of building something out of small pieces - either diminutive in size or value - and Wonky was born from a lot of those ideas.”
Chairs from the Kolho collection by Matthew Day Jackson for Made by Choice.
Navigating the technical restraints and tacit guidelines inherent to furniture production has also opened up a new way of thinking for the artist; Jackson’s lauded, comically laden and antic vision needed to be adapted to meet the more pragmatic needs of the medium. “To a certain extent I’ve been gravitating towards the limitations and the rigor required to make furniture - it needs to be beautiful, comfortable and strong but also light enough to move,” he says.
The Wonky Collection on view at Casa Perfect Los Angeles.
Wonky resolves this tension without sacrificing any of the artist’s signature wit. As the critic Jeffrey Kastner has exhorted Jackson’s works reveals ‘startling beauty in their counterintuitive material juxtapositions.’ This pairing can be explained by the term ‘Horriful’; the belief that everything one does has the potential to induce both beauty and horror. “I constantly find myself interested in things that run this line,” says Jackson. “It’s a place where you can’t determine whether you’re looking at something truly terrible or rapturously beautiful. It’s like staring at the sun or a car crash, it's uncanny. Hopefully that tension keeps the viewer in a hovering state so you can’t really determine one from the other.”
“Making furniture for me is an area of deep play; it’s both intellectually engaging yet the boundaries are very firmly defined in a different way to making sculpture or painting”
Horriful, beautiful, intriguing. However you wish to term it, Jackson’s Wonky collection possesses a unique allure and succeeds in its core mission. “Making furniture for me is an area of deep play; it’s both intellectually engaging yet the boundaries are very firmly defined in a different way to making sculpture or painting,” says the artist. “In making furniture, what we’re doing is making an armature for us to perform culture. Hopefully it’s comfortable and allows us to perform our best human selves to one another. If that can occur it’s a major success.”
Matthew Day Jackson's Wonky Bardenza and Chair on view at Design Miami/ 2019.