Matt Kleberg “Hankerings” at Morgan Lehman Gallery

The exhibition title refers to J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, a novel whose themes entertain the tension between embodiment and transcendence. According to Zooey, the older brother of the distressed protagonist Franny, one can’t escape the reality of their desires, proclivities, and hankerings, and to ignore them is to waste one’s time “in this goddam phenomenal world” (F&Z, p. 167). That same tension animates these new paintings.


The work borrows from architectural and ornamental references such as altars, theater sets, and stages, all spaces that frame specific actions and actors, suggesting an interest in performativity, whether ritual or theatrical.


With a practice formerly concerned with figuration, Kleberg’s recent work offers the absence of any depicted actor. Pregnant spaces and the presence of the hand imply the possibility of the figure, and, by extension, implicate the viewer in their own embodiment. The insistent framing in all of the work, and the sculptural elements of some, reiterate that the paintings themselves are objects or bodies in space. Bright colors and repetitive marks have the hum of the rhapsodic, but the wonkiness evokes something decidedly human.

Start Date

March 31, 2016

End Date

May 7, 2016


10:00 AM - 06:00 PM


Morgan Lehman Gallery, 535 West 22nd Street, New York, NY

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