Untethered, the playful art of Matt Catrino at High 5 Gallery
Michael Lieberman checks out the newest show on view at High 5 Gallery, a relative newcomer to Philadelphia’s always-vibrant gallery scene. The exhibit “Untethered” is tied together by its warm coloration and overarching sense of whimsy. Michael says the work is a steal at its current price, so if you’re a collector on a budget, swing by before the show closes on January 31!

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“TUESDAY 9/4/18”, Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 19" x 24", 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery
“TUESDAY 9/4/18”, Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 19″ x 24″, 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery

Matt Catrino’s exhibition of paintings, sculpture and installation at High 5 Gallery includes a number of unusually imaginative, and strikingly innocent, still lifes. The Philadelphia artist is in his mid-30’s, and has a background in industrial design. His work, though, reflects the hand of an illustrator, if not a cartoonist.

Catrino’s still lifes are simple, and they defy gravity — they’re animated, and a little tipsy. The color schemes are warm. Indeed, there is a certain perfection to the coloration that grounds and supports the less than perfect, slightly oblong, shapes of the objects depicted. Like all of Catrino’s work, the still lifes possess a certain appealing, child-like quality.

A handful of the artist’s more abstract paintings struck me as unique. One of them, “WEDNESDAY 3/21/18” — it’s really semi-abstract figuration — pictured here, is almost angry in its contortions, and provocative in a way that no other piece in the show is. The artist, obviously, is a complicated man, and I think this dimension of his work deserves further attention.

“WEDNESDAY 3/21/18”, Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 19" x 24", 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery

“WEDNESDAY 3/21/18”, Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 19″ x 24″, 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery

Apart from the still lifes and abstractions, much of the work on display consists of lithe figurines, many of them faceless, in ingenious, oftentimes playful positions and combinations. While appealing, I found some of them to be somewhat stiff, even one-dimensional. They seem less substantial and complete than the still lifes and abstract pieces I’ve discussed.

An interesting side note, the work is priced to sell. All of it is under $200. And indeed, a large number of pieces sold at the opening of the show on First Friday. Given the talent of the artist, I’d suggest that the work could demand higher prices.

High 5 opened in mid-2017. The gallery, which is run by Tyler graduate Natalie Merritt, is located in a charming carriage house just off Spring Garden Street around the corner from Silk City and is dedicated to exhibiting the work of emerging artists in Philadelphia. You can follow them on Instagram.

“Untethered, The Art of Catrino,” is on display January 4-31, 2019 at High 5 Gallery, 554 N. Lawrence St.; Phone: (215) 485-6055


More Photos

“SUNDAY 5/27/18”, Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 8" x 10", 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery
“SUNDAY 5/27/18”, Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 8″ x 10″, 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery
“SUNDAY 9/2/18” , Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 19" x 24", 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery
“SUNDAY 9/2/18” , Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 19″ x 24″, 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery
“MONDAY 4/23/18”, Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 8" x 10", 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery
“MONDAY 4/23/18”, Matt Catrino, Acrylic on Board, 8″ x 10″, 2018, Photo courtesy of High 5 Gallery
Tags

abstract, drawing, first friday, High 5, illustration, industrial design, Matt Catrino, painting, philadelphia, untethered

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