Observe and Reflect

Observe and Reflect: Paintings by Richard Mattsson

Richard Mattsson creates art as a reflective practice. Like a meditation, his paintings exist without subliminal concept or conscious messaging. They convey the unfettered experience of the Swope Park landscape, of a Kansas City neighborhood engulfed in the yellow-red blanket of autumn leaves, or of a garden in the golden glow of late summer. There is a quiet, unassuming magic in these works. It is the magic of every day beauty, of a clear and open mind, of getting lost looking at the trees on your own street. 

Mattsson’s artistic process revolves around observation and spontaneity. Rather than attempt to control the development of his artwork, Mattsson allows intuition to guide the evolution of his paintings. This liberating, self-trusting practice lends itself to a delicately ephemeral body of work. The finished products capture fleeting moments, such as the aura of pink haze in the last seconds before the sun sinks below the horizon or the shimmering reflection of trees in a pond on a cloudless summer day. Mattsson’s solo exhibition in Weinberger Fine Art’s Drawing Room is a melodic gentle reminder to viewers to slow down long enough to experience Kansas City’s subtle, constantly changing beauty. 

“Anna in the Garden” is a captivating example of Mattsson’s seamlessly serene representative style. A nude woman stands unselfconsciously in an exterior garden, her hand delicately outstretched to caress the leaves of a tree. She exudes an effortless grace, appearing at once alert and at ease. It is as if she blends in with the foliage around her – as if she herself is a natural and expected part of the floral landscape. The juxtaposition of the tree’s red-gold leaves against the lush greens and blooming flowers in the rest of the garden tell us that it is early fall, and the trees have just begun to change color. Everything is elegantly precise – the season, the golden afternoon light, the bloom of the garden, the gentle touch of the woman’s finger to the leaves. The scene emanates a quiet, verdant tranquility.

“Anna in the Garden,” oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

“Anna in the Garden,” oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

Although “Studio with Crotons” is an interior painting, it is almost as rich with flora as Mattsson’s landscape and garden pictures. Potted houseplants with thick, red and green leaves adorn small tables scattered around the foreground of the painting. A geometric rug covers a stretch of the honey-colored hardwood floors. A mirror expands across the entirety of the wall on the right edge of the painting, reflecting a second perspective of the room. A third perspective is found in a smaller mirror on the left side of the painting. In this mirror, the artist and his easel are visible. Paintbrush in hand, Mattsson peers calmly but intently at the room before him. He is a self-effacing figure in the artwork; like the woman in “Anna in the Garden,” he is both at ease and fully engrossed in his serene surroundings. The artist’s presence in “Studio with Crotons” alludes to his signature meditative, observation-based process.

“Studio with Crotons,” oil on canvas, 48 x 55 inches

“Studio with Crotons,” oil on canvas, 48 x 55 inches

Richard Mattsson’s paintings are the stunning product of being present in one’s own quotidian surroundings. They are the art of meditation, introspection, and observation. Of his artistic process, Mattsson comments, “My visual perception is the sum of me looking outward and simultaneously looking inward.” As he works, delicately mediating his surroundings and his emotional response to them, Mattsson strives to return to the authentic state of pure observation experienced almost exclusively by children. His paintings invite us to do the same.