On The Wall: Musical Chairs

Empty chairs would seem to be just about the least promising subject imaginable for a series of paintings. After all, you can see plenty of lackluster paintings of empty chairs in community college art courses all over America - usually when the nude model has failed to show up for work.

But in a new series of paintings, Matt Condron finds a startling beauty and even pathos in chairs without any people sitting in them. He paints deserted diners, passengerless buses and other silent places suffues with an aching loneliness. These locations have peeling paint and scuffed floors, indicating that they have been well-used, but now everybody is gone and there's nothing to do but wait.

"They Were Inseparable" implies a melancholy little tale with just a handful of clues. Three cheap wooden chairs, the kind you'd find in any public school, are lined up against a wall in a chilly room with a glossy tile floor. It's logical to read this place as a classroom. But why are chairs are separated from all the others? Did the inseparable "they" put them there so they could be together, or did the teacher make these three troublemakers sit off by themselves as some sort of punishment? In any case, the firm past-tense of the title lets us know that this once-inseparable threesome was eventually separated. But how did it happen? Did they just grow up and apart? Was there some sort of feud? Whatever happened, it's over and done now, with these three chairs serving as a strange memorial to a friendship that used to be.

Matt Condron, Jacques Garnier and Paul Paiement @ Peter Black Gallery 326 N. Pacific Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 376-9994 Open through September 25th.

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