In His Own Words:
Paintings that live in the world
I have always been drawn towards creative approaches that generate a friction between actions performed as an artist and the visual frameworks that create the artwork. Between these concerns it is critical for the artworks I produce to be able to stand alone without an exhaustive document or map telling the viewer what it is that they are seeing or how they should see it.
In the winter of 2014, I gave myself “a snow day”. I took a break from my then current work, which was very structured, and allowed myself a chance to explore anything that popped into my head. Over the course of a week, I developed an avalanche of work that was received far beyond my modest expectations. In what I initially started as a way to expand how I had been building images, I found a new body of work that has energized my studio. My focus on approaching this work is with openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconception of the final outcome. I have found new ways of working and discovered qualities about my work that were unknown to me.
In this latest work I have become far more sensitive to the idea of balance. Visual concerns such as color and process, mark making and field, scale and relationship, planning and improvisation, allow me to develop artworks that interest me intellectually as well as visually. The resulting body of work consists of markers that observe, comment and gauge the decisions made.
Interviews in Excellence: with artist Matthew Langley
1. If you could time travel to any period in history, past or future, what would it be? why?
This is a really interesting question – it reminds me of the movie “Midnight In Paris” Where Luke Wilson character is constantly dreaming that if only he had lived in “Paris in the 20’s” and of course over the movie he falls in love with Marion Cotillard’s character from that time who longs to be living in the “La Belle Époque”.
The story of ends with the realization that one must live in one’s own time. I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve been fortunate to live through a number of cultural periods that have shaped me and our culture in so many ways. From Moon landings to the internet, from punk rock to ambient music, and of course, painting and sculpture from the 60’s until today. I’ve been able to see art, and work with artists who have influenced me in so many ways – sometimes not apparent in my work, but in my process.
2. What process do you go through in preparing for a work that you are about to make? (drawing, sketching, writing, experimenting, etc...)
I have not used a sketchbook for a few years. This is not because I don’t think about the work, but I came to realize that the small paintings I make everyday have really become in effect my sketchbook.
I should back this up a bit. Every day since January 2015 I have made a small painting as part of my overall process. I realized about 8 months into this that I no longer really needed a sketchbook. These small pieces allow me to work out ideas and color relationships without having to go back through a series of ideas. The ideas are simply thought about and acted on. I think it really helps keep my work fresh. It certainly helps keep me fresh.
I would be lost without my paper calendar.
3. If you could hang your work next to any other artist’s work (past or present) whose work would it be? What piece in particular?
Recently I was honored to be in two shows; one with Josef Albers and the other with Ed Ruscha. Neither of whom I would have thought that my work would ever hang next to. It made me realize that almost anything can happen, so you just never know.
Here’s a bit of a list:
• Morris Louis (the “veils”)
• Jennifer Bartlett (the early grid paintings including “Rhapsody”)
• Callum Innes
• Stanley Whitney
• Richard Diebenkorn
• Neal Jenney (the “bad paintings”)
• Frank Stella (the black paintings)
• Mark Rothko
• Henri Matisse
It would be kind of cool to be in a Virginia artists show with Sally Mann and Cy Twombly, I’ll just put that out there.
4. How do you manage all of the other stuff artists have to do, besides the artwork? Do you have a particular system for this?
System? Does staying up late count as a system?
At one point I ran a design agency, we built websites and design tools primarily for foundations and non-profits, so I’m able to build web sites and set up artwork for marketing fairly easily. I use Quick Books (like 90% of the small businesses in America), and I use an online inventory system designed for artists (at least they claim it’s designed for artists).
The hardest part for me is the face to face networking at openings and chasing a gallery down without feeling like a pest. I’ve recently started to really feel for gallery directors as I can only imagine the number of artists they are wading through on a daily basis – that must be hard. At the same time why would they even be interested in an artist who has no ambition – so it’s tough to find a happy medium.
5. How have you set up your work space? What in particular about your setup facilitates the way you work?
I have a new studio outside of the house. (apartment - whatever) in setting it up it was important to me to make it a place of work. I know a lot of artists like having things like sofas or easy chairs, and a host of household luxuries in the studio. I purposely went the other way. It was important to me to set up a place to work that would focus me to only focus on the work.
Set up in the studio is something like lights, two tables a rolling tray, small radio, and a somewhat comfortable chair. It’s pretty minimal – but designed to be that way.
Current & Upcoming:
Pop Up Installation @ Danielle
2278 Union Street San Francisco
Art on Paper
March 7 - 10
Pier 36 New York City
Page Bond Gallery
Opening Reception: Friday, April 5th from 6 to 8 pm
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