“Last minute, I decided to give this art thing a good shot.”
“This art thing,” for University of Miami student Matthew Hanzman, turned out to be an exhibit of over 70 pieces at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. He created all the pieces in about nine months.
Hanzman is the inaugural painter in the Emerging Artists Showcase. Not bad for a 21-year-old rising senior studying political science.
Hanzman attended Tufts University for his freshman year of college, but transferred back home to UM in Coral Gables.
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The love he has for his hometown is clear — and he fits right in.
“It’s eclectic, it’s vibrant, it’s uncut,” he said. “It’s why I came back. I hope it translates into my painting.” Hanzman’s art, which is as vibrant and exciting as it is introspectively revealing, reflects Miami’s diversity.
Some are abstact, some simple, others unusual or disturbing. But they are all clearly connected to Hanzman on a deeper level. “All my pieces have personal stories about my life in Miami,” he said.
One of the most prominent pieces in the exhibit, “Forever,” reflects Hanzman’s dynamic nature — it’s part of his Discarded Paintings series. It is full of visual motifs such as yin-yangs, flowers and faces.
“It demonstrates graffiti, street culture that’s not typically associated with fine art,” Hanzman said. “The symbols are ones that are entwined into our subconscious.”
The painting is reminiscent of street art one could expect to find in Wynwood, but with a cleaner, more personal flare. The piece is simple in that it only uses two contrasting colors, but it is complex in its contents — the longer viewers look at it, the more they discover. It’s easy to get sucked into the painting’s endless array of symbolism, one that takes you into a whole new world.
“My art isn’t instantly gratifying,” Hanzman said. “It slowly reveals itself to the viewer.”
Hanzman’s work varies dramatically. For every dizzying and entrancing collection of symbols, like “Forever,” he has a more simple and candid piece. On one of the back walls of the exhibit, 32 smaller paintings fit together in a seamless collage that can be interpreted individually or as one grand narrative.
“They each have a personal twist,” Hanzman said. “But they each caused conversation among viewers.”
One of Hanzman’s most enthralling works is “Spaghetti Junction.” The black and white piece “merges the abstract with the subtle.”
The paint, which swirls and jolts in different directions has a life of it’s own. It is completely captivating to get lost in “Spaghetti Junction’s” patterns and textures. Small details, such as the tiny bursts of color in a sea of black and white, give the painting a sharp sense of individuality.
Hanzman is aware of the rare opportunity he has seized as the first “emerging artist” of the series at Fairchild.
“I’m really honored,” Hanzman said. “And I hope more artists can show their work here in the future.
The show is a “maximalist” one, Hanzman said. Each painting is unique and vibrant. Upon entering the exhibit, the eye is immediately drawn to countless different pieces.
“It’s 70 pieces, it’s over the top,” he said. “It’s me in different forms of expression.”
Art, to Hanzman, is something inherently personal, interactive and social. This past December, he teamed up with some friends to do an “art drop” — meaning he left paintings in nontraditional public places.
“I like the mystery and lack of context,” Hanzman said. “Fine art shouldn’t only be this cold, calculated, distant thing in a museum.
In regard to the future, the young artist can rest easy.
“It’s easy to get discouraged,” he said. “But this has shown me that it’s something I’d be lucky to pursue.”
Even if his life path doesn’t lead toward being a full-time artist, Hanzman hopes he never has to stop. He is considering getting a master’s degree in fine arts and painting.
“I’m completely obsessed,” Hanzman said. “I hope to keep this going in the future.”
If you go
What: Emerging Artists Showcase with painter Matthew Hanzman
Where: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden at The Rose and McQuillan Arts Center, 10901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables, FL
When: Through Aug. 26
Online: instagram.com/matthewhanzman96 and matthanzmanart.com