Matt Bollinger is painting and animating fantasy and reality, simultaneously. The characters themselves seem to be in a suspended state of reflection and dreaming, an escape but one that isn’t quite visualized or understood. When we have called Bollinger a great American painter in the past, or a great American storyteller, it was often for what was off-the-canvas to what each character was looking at. Are they seeing a landscape they don’t recognize or one that they actually recognize far too well? I think that is what moves me about Bollinger’s paintings: there is a sadness and honesty because what we see in front of us is a truth we can’t fathom to reckon or have denied.
These are working class Americans, but also a conversation about what happens after work. Off Peak, his new show at mother’s tankstation in Dublin, Ireland, could be called “off hours.” The empty storefront, filling up the tank at the gas station, the burning a pile of rubbish in the yard, it all feels like a moment where time is standing still and time is flying by. It’s all so believable and yet each person in the painting feels transfixed by something just too far away to completely see. It feels like the perfect American story for 2022. —Evan Pricco