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The wall pieces presented in Eddie’s Gulch, a new solo show by Matt Siegle at Park View, are very pretty. Crackling grey paint lies atop raw linen, evoking dried mud or creases in a palm. Floating above, sepia-toned paintings show fragments of landscape. Prop-like sculptures dot the room: a crumpled tarp, a milk crate, and a small and minimal tent structure. The works are quiet and studied.
And then you find the slide list.
Stashed in Park View’s kitchen next to sparkling wine and empty cans of Tecate, the list of titles is key. Here, the reader is given a complex narration that the paintings alone could never provide. Paragraph-long titles are erotic novellas about modern-day gold miners working, sweating, and lusting. These stories, based on a group of men that Siegle has been photographing since 2013, focus on eroticism and wanton desire among its members. Ephemerality is central to Siegle’s writing: scent of body and earth ooze from the text. They propose timelessness, where only references to REI and Reebok suggest otherwise.
A viewer who fails to stumble into the kitchen is left to contend with polite abstract paintings and a group of found object sculptures, which come off as props and—like the paintings—accessories to the written narrative. Considering the importance of the writing, its demotion to the gallery’s kitchen is a mistake. Maybe this show would’ve been more successful as a book. Within, text and image could exist side-by-side, granting equal weight and momentum to the other as we flip each sweat and dirt-covered page.
Matt Siegle: Eddie’s Gulch runs May 24–June 28, 2015 at Park View (836 S Park View Street, Unit 8, Los Angeles, CA 90057).