Time Out New York / December 10, 2010

Matthew Buckingham

Portraiture may drift in and out of the spotlight, but it’s insured against extinction by its fundamental humanity; we remain fascinated by images of ourselves, and by the gap between representation and reality. In two installations from 2009, Matthew Buckingham explores aspects of this evergreen genre, focusing on the exchange of looks between artist, subject and viewer, and the corresponding illusion of an idealized frozen moment. But while Buckingham conducts his deconstructive investigations with admirable care, the results are rather arid.

The use of slide projection and voice-over engenders a feeling of being lectured, while the projects’ subdued look and measured pace demand patience from the get-go. “A portrait,” we are instructed, “is nothing else than a relationship.” Perhaps, but any passion here simmers well below the surface.

In the show’s title work, details of a portrait by Velasquez are projected onto a crate in what looks like a cluttered storeroom. The images focus not on the painting’s named subject, Prince Felipe Prospero, but on a dog that stares out from a nearby seat. A narrator picks apart the painting’s construction, but while his observations are thoughtful, they make the sculptural elements of the work seem cumbersome, even superfluous.

Image: View of "Matthew Buckingham," 2010.