Mathew J Zefeldt

Photo of Mathew J Zefeldt

Contact Me

Regis Ctr For Art
E201 Regis Center For Art

405 21st Ave S


I use representational imagery as an element within a larger composition like an abstract painter would use a mark within a composition. Its less about what the repeated image represents necessarily, but rather the interplay and relationships of the parts to the whole, and each other- reflecting the pluralist landscape we find ourselves in today. I use images that are already part of our consciousness- things from our life, things from culture- and reproduce them in an almost lifeless, systematic way. This really opens up possibilities for what to paint, and how to paint it. With the freedom to paint anything, what is interesting, or important is what you do to your subject- what subtle gesture can the painter do to separate it from the original? I copy it over and over again like a Xerox machine, or place it next to things painted in very different way or styles, almost as if they are speaking different languages.

I strive to take on the role of juggler while painting- one who is skilled at keeping several elements engaged at one time. This is a reflection of our contemporary culture, where it seems as if everyone is constantly multitasking their way through existence. High-end rear projection televisions from the turn of the millenium, for example, featured the function of “picture in picture”, where the viewer could switch between channels during commercials, while still keeping the commercial in a smaller window in the corner of the screen. Another influence for my work is looking at desktop arrangements for computers- several windows opened while smaller icons can be clicked to open other windows or multiple realities. Or the shuffle feature on itunes- taking your entire music library and playing the songs at random- when one song ends and another begins, their differences are highlighted.

The multiplication of the same character all over the painting points to the speed and ease with which one can perfectly clone identical images in photoshop. I think about the idea of software operations being performed in the traditional medium of painting: import, export, zoom in, zoom out, copy, cut, paste, stretch, skew, and transform.

I have been using repeated objects, often times statue heads from antiquity, that serve as individual marks, like a brushstroke­ often forming a macro image, in the case of the Head-­Face paintings, a large smiley face emoticon; In other words, heads form faces and forms form forms. The micro mark, or classical statue head is also far removed from the original. It goes throughout different filters of technology and time: A painting of a painting of a xerox copy of a photo of a statue of a person who has been dead for two millennia. These still life objects are each hand painted. At a close look, every statue head has unique flaws due to the fact that they are painted with a clumsy human hand. At a farther glance, the statue heads look identical, and almost like a digital collage using software like photoshop.

Operating as a director, I work with a specific cast of characters: pixels, bricks, two-by-fours, statue heads, gradients, dutch still life paintings, paint rags, junk food, cartoon representations of paint, patterns, video game characters, gestural marks, and emojis.

One of these elements, Dutch still life paintings have become interesting not only because of their aesthetic difference from other elements in the work, but also because objects are stacked and become a larger single mass, or meta object. A piece of fruit rotting, or a fly, or a skull, or a bubble about to burst, speaks to the brevity of life even within the over abundance presented. The paintings, or “pictures in pictures”, function as a subplot within a large still-life composed of multiple images.

The paintings have awkward figure­ ground relationships, where figures float in an extremely shallow space, as if they were positioned in post production using a green screen, like a bad science fiction movie. My interest in the aesthetics of digital collage is addressing the multiple visual languages of painting and bringing them together in one plane, creating an overlay of styles and gestures that echo the fragmented, heterogeneous nature of contemporary reality.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • MFA: Studio Art, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, 2011.
  • BA: Art, University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, 2009.


  • drawing
  • painting
  • installation
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Good Weather Gallery, Sunny Awnings, Little Rock, AR 2015:
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art, Repetition, Simulation, Repetition, Minneapolis, MN 2014 :
  • Hap Gallery, Mathew Zefeldt and Kyle Austin Dunn- Back and Forth: Collaborative Paintings, Portland, OR 2014 :
  • Lisa Cooley Gallery, Eric’s Trip, New York, NY, 2014:
  • Eleanor Harwood Gallery, Figure Ground, San Francisco, CA 2014:
  • MOHS Exhibit, Horse of a Different Colour, Copenhagen, Denmark 2013:
  • Santa Monica Museum of Art, Forms Forming Forms, Santa Monica, CA, 2013:
  • Hatch Gallery, What Are I?, Oakland, CA, 2013:
  • Michael Rosenthal Gallery, Trying to See the Thing in My Head, (solo)San Francisco, CA, 2012 :
  • Skinner Howard Contemporary Art, An Alternate Fantastic Reality,(solo) Sacramento, CA 2010:
  • Eduardo Carrillo Gallery, Peanut Butter Sandwich, (solo) Santa Cruz, CA. 2009:
  • Fecal Face Dot Gallery, The Diamond Sea, San Francisco, CA 2012:
  • Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, Fall National Juried Exhibition, Novato, CA 2012:
  • Illges Gallery, 6 Pack: Working Abs: Six Abstract Painters, Columbus, GA 2012 :
  • Pro Arts, Bay Area Currents: What We Can’t See But Want to See is Art, Oakland, CA 2012:
  • Artifact Gallery, Serenity Now, Davis, CA 2012:
  • Pro Arts, Juried Annual 2012, Oakland, CA 2011-12:
  • Michael Rosenthal Gallery, Greatest Hits, San Francisco, CA 2011:
  • Richard L. Nelson Gallery, The House of Others: Master of Fine Arts Thesis Show, Davis, CA 2011 :
  • RVCA Gallery, Golden State Part 2: Delineation, San Francisco, CA 2010:
  • Mission: Comics and Art, Vim and Vigor, San Francisco, CA 2010:
  • University Club, Great Expectations: First Year MFA Show. Davis, CA 2010:
  • Zughaus Gallery, Menagerie Collective Group Show . Berkeley, CA 2010:
  • Big Umbrella Studios, Menagerie Collective Winter Show. San Francisco, CA. 2009 :
  • Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery, Irwin Scholars 2009. Santa Cruz, CA. 2009 :
  • “Fan Mail: Mathew Zefeldt“ Daily Serving. : Zefeldt, Mathew. Link
  • Zefeldt, Mathew, “Paintings By Mathew Zefeldt“ Fecal Face Dot Com.. Link
  • “Michael Rosenthal Gallery: Mathew Zefeldt“. SF Art Enthusiast: Zefeldt, Mathew. Link
  • Zefeldt, Mathew, New American Paintings #97: Pacific Coast Edition. Juried Exhibition in Print, Open Studios Press. 2012 .
  • Zefeldt, Mathew, New American Paintings #91: Pacific Coast Edition. Juried Exhibition in Print, Open Studios Press. 2011.
  • Imagine Fund Award, University of Minnesota. 2013
  • Dedalus Foundation Master of Fine Arts Fellowship, 2010 - 2011
  • Faye Nelson MFA Award, 2011 - 2011
  • Freemon P. Gadbury Award, 2009 - 2011
  • Mary Lou Osborne Award, 2010 - 2010
  • William Hyde and Susan Benteen Irwin Scholarship, 2009 - 2009