"As a college freshman in Ohio (at Kenyon College) 60 years ago, Paul Matthews painted Gambier Elm, a small Matisse-inflected image of a footpath veering away from the main road. Matthews’ trajectory since then has been anything but straightforward. Veering across subjects and painterly aproaches — from brusquely suggestive landscapes to meticulous, nearly phtotographic ones; from virtuosic portraiture to lewd phantasmagoria — Matthews’ art has jackknifed and zigged. The result can be disorienting, at least to anyone expecting artists to grow, elm-like, in the designated plot of a signature style,” writes Alexi Worth in the catalog for the Paul Matthews retrospective.

It is a remarkable experience to witness 60 years of one artist’s work, all in one sprawling exhibit. Matthews, who lives in Lambertville and studied at Cooper Union Art School in New York, found himself among dozens of close friends and admirers who packed the opening reception on Saturday, March 12.

The galleries at Ellarslie — an architectural gem that more Princetonians need to go discover and enjoy — capture every phase of Matthews’ expansive career and the huge exhibit space lends itself perfectly to Matthews’ many oversized canvases, both portraits and landscapes. Much of Matthews’ work is provocative, so provocative, in fact, that one room of the exhibit has an “adult content” warning sign at the entrance.

The exhibit is on view through Sunday, April 17. The artist gives a gallery walk, talk, and booksigning on Sunday, April 3, at 2 p.m.

For more information visit www.ellarslie.org

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