Interview with an artist – Matthew Simpson
When did you first realise you wanted to paint?
I have always enjoyed art since I was a small child. I never stopped drawing from those early years. When I was 18 I attended the Victorian College of the Arts and completed the Bachelor of Arts in fine art.
Could you tell us some more about your work?
I am interested in lines. I have been interested in lines as the starting point for visual creation for a long time. I create automatic drawings by making marks on a page, taking a line for a walk. I doubt it is possible to make a truly automatic drawing in this way as there is always an underlying aesthetic sensibility dictating that a line go here or a line go there, and this is more interesting than a completely random approach. Separate marks initially stand alone and speak only of their relationship to each other as the emptiness that surrounds them. Gradually as their density increases the lines energise a field as iron filings on a page describe the magnetic field of a magnet underneath.
As lines blend together they suggest objects and at some points I emphasis the suggested objects and follow their sensibility. To continue, the lines coalesce into an all over pattern that looks as if the detail goes on forever and that part is the same as part only different in its aspect. In some of my digital work I have merged the automatic drawing techniques with controlled backgrounds. Central symmetry suggests the cosmic and a circle motif echoes mandalas. I am satisfied with a work when it draws on known visual configurations but holds my interest as an enigmatic object.
What is it that inspires you to paint?
I am inspired to paint by colour and space and the endless possibilities that combinations of lines allow. Living and creating at this point in time we are free to concentrate on any subject and style as there are no schools in the post-modern, we are all free as individuals. With all that freedom I suggest there are limits that need to be self imposed. My rules at the moment are that I will restrict myself to only paint in lines.
What other artists have influenced you, and how?
Jackson Pollock and Ian Fairweather spring to mind for their use of line, their beautiful colour and expression.
What do you do for fun (besides painting)?
I love a good game of chess. I was getting together with my sister for a while for a fortnightly game but she had the nerve to get up and move to Washington to take up a job with NASA. When we are not so busy we will have to work out how to play each other online.
What’s your favourite painting and why?
I guess a Paul Klee painting would usually fit the bill but the favourite changes with my mood. There are too many great artists to name them all. Of my own work, the favourite is usually the latest painting. This usually follows a pattern where from being my favourite I then come back to it after a few months and see flaws and how I would like to paint it differently and then another few months pass I begin to regard the painting with some of my former favour.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on eight midsized canvases that I expect to exhibit later in the year. They are looking good at this stage.