As a child grocery shopping in Chile, Matías Alvial, a 2019 graduate of the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, would often find himself overwhelmed by the variety of products available—especially when it came to his country’s diverse and celebrated wines. He asked his father how someone could know which bottle was the best. “You don’t,” his father responded. Instead, he went on to explain the complex relationship between business and art—how pricing, branding, positioning, and packaging all contributed to marketing a product. “Years later, I realized that NYU would be the best place to study what my father introduced me to long ago: marketing and visual arts,” says Matías.
Recently, Matías has been studying what he calls the “aesthetics of commerce,” an interdisciplinary look at the future of new media, consumers, and art practices. His courses have pushed him to experiment with new forms and mediums in his own artwork, too. For example, in the piece Untitled (2015), he explores the use of unconventional materials—in this case, paint chips. About Suffocating Thoughts (2015), Matias says, “The painting seeks to invoke the feeling of suffocating inspiration—when you get artist’s block due to too many ideas fighting against one another.” In 2017, Matias produced Pink Sea. “This was a study of light and water with a colorful twist and a rather expressive technique. I hoped to capture the essence of waves during sunrise and the feeling of nostalgia, as I used to watch the ocean pull back and forth in the early mornings with my grandfather.”