Comet: Matthew Kolodziej at William Busta Projects

Matthew Kolodziej, Cycle, acrylic on canvas, 65 x 56 inches, 2023

When I walk alongside Lake Erie’s beach, I peel my eyes open for rocks of all different shapes, sizes, and textures, keeping the ones most divine to me contained in my pocket. The ones which are flat are perfect forms for skipping across the water, flickering movements which follow. In Matthew Kolodziej’s solo show at William Busta Projects titled, Comet, I am reminded of these little Edgewater rocks, or portals which transport me to a specific sensation or memory of an environment, one that is tactile and fleeting. These works form a connection to place, and I think of Rebecca Solnit’s sentiments from Wanderlust: A History of Walking, “Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time; the mind wanders from plans, to recollections, to observations. The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts.” [1]

As I look at Kolodziej’s paintings, I return to this natural cyclical and linear shape of a walk. I conjure up these associations of moving amongst a physical environment which is filled with rocks and sediment. My feet become filled with dirt and sand particles grab in between my toes, I move quickly, and wash them off in the water. That sense of residue, touch, and a grounding presence is formed by build-up of paint and these sliced layers or deposits of organic forms are seen in Cycle or Geode. This vertical geometry which reveals and dissipates, appears as a bandages which absorb matter from beneath or above, like tape, narrow strips sticking to the canvas forming a linear progression. Revealing this constant rate of change which occurs throughout, fragmented forms begin to flicker and distort. Kolodziej says, “I’m attracted to these spaces in transition. I’m inspired by urban environments that are constantly built and rebuilt. As well as a trip to Japan, where I was comparing or looking at both traditional garden spaces of Kyoto and the high-tech environment of Tokyo.”  

One of the most important traditional routes in Japan during the Edo period was the path between Tokyo and Kyoto. Tōkaidō road has been a popular subject amongst artists, Hiroshige’s woodcut print titled, The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, which illustrates this idea of traveling along a path by walking and stopping at stations for food and rest. This landscape has now transformed, and bullet trains have altered the speed in which one travels across Japan. Original parts of this path can still be traced, and this underlying idea of changing landscape and Modernization can be applied to Kolodziej’s work. He is curious about the speed which one is traveling through space and the amounts of information taken in which distort the original observations of that space.

Matthew Kolodziej, Geode, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 49 inches, 2023

Kolodziej’s paintings have perceptual shifts occurring in these windows, which carry the viewer like that of a comet, bursting with movement, feeling simultaneously near and far, focused and hazy, abrupt and smooth. His mark making appears like a blurred lens, or a distant memory of a space or form. Yet, borders are clearly defined and seem absolute, a parallel to screens. This play between different elements is sharp and contrasting as Kolodziej searches for experimentation in material findings with paint. He uses the frame to preserve and collage these extracted pieces of landscape, it appears as if sections are cross-pollinating and duplicating. Some forms feel diluted and hazy, a collection of diverse fleeting macro or microscopic elements float to the surface. 

Matthew Kolodziej, Orbit, acrylic on canvas, 49 x 42 inches, 2023

The title of this show, Comet, could also give the works a more literal interpretation connecting to microbiology. Panspermia Theory hypothesizes that a comet spurred an explosion on planet earth which began the seeds of life in the universe. Looking at Kolodziej’s work from a scientific perspective, in Orbit, dust particles and cells develop from slides, nuclei and other biological compounds and structures emerge as if it’s being exposed through the lens of a microscope. Orbs and collections of breeding specks are activated with saturated coloring and brush marks, giving it a living and breathing appearance. This series connects viewers to their bodies, and different realms whether that be internally or externally, there is an undeniable association to organic spaces.

Kolodziej talks about this visual language that is responding to our dynamic image-making culture, “through my process of collecting images I use direct observation and images traced from digital composites on the computer, a combination of both digital and material responses.” There is a movement that starts and stops, yet feels incredibly still. His application of paint to show viewers the boundaries and connections between spaces which contain loose elements. Organic lines and patchwork become the binding crux, a way to navigate and travel through each space which holds an unfixed energy as seen in Give and Take 3. One idea is formed and then it ends, it is as if Kolodziej is trying to recall a distant tactile feeling of landscape, one that extruded, examined through a digital lens, and constantly flipping through this archive of physical sensations taken from the environment and fragmented.

Matthew Kolodiej, Give and Take 3, mixed media on paper, 30 x 44 inches, 2023

Comet generates a sort of cadence through his collaging method that seems parallel to the digital environment, similar to flipping through a gallery of photos on a phone. These fizzy sections have ephemeral effects, appearing short lived and transitory. There is an irregular heart beat present which echoes throughout each of these compositions. At the very core, these works take the viewer through geological, cosmic, and cellular felt landscapes. It appears as though Kolodziej is collecting moments of being sentient within our physical surroundings in this accelerated digital environment which we find ourselves in. This focus on perception is evident in the works through the translation and distortion of real space. Kolodziej’s bubbly and effervescent textures evoke sensations that are connected to materiality and structures found within the landscape. 

Matthew Kolodziej has an upcoming residency and exhibition in Kyoto, Japan. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Art at Myers School of Art at The University of Akron on sabbatical until August. Kolodziej also has a deeper interest in science and art, and began “Synapse Series,” at The University of Akron, which connects art and science through lectures, workshops, and exhibitions and residencies with local partners.

[1] Solnit, Rebecca. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. (New York: Penguin Group, 2001), 5.

Matthew Kolodziej: Comet

February 2 through March 2, 2024

William Busta Projects

Thursday-Saturday 12pm-5pm, or by appointment. Extended hours through April

15517 Waterloo Rd. Suite 2

Cleveland, Ohio 44110


The opinions expressed on CAN Blog are those of the individual writers. Art is somewhat subjective. Well, somewhat. But yes, everybody's a critic.