Video Interview: Surreal Realist Matthew Quick
Professionally, Matthew Quick has had his hand in many pots. Before devoting himself to his art full time, he worked as a photographer, designer, copywriter and he even wrote a couple of novels. A cancer diagnosis forced him to assess how he wanted to spend his life. Told he had 5 years to live, he dived into his art practice. Now, more than a decade later, he’s cancer-free and has an extensive body of work to show for his efforts.
While most people take their time to develop their art practice, Matthew finds himself “in a bit of a rush. I don’t want to waste time.” This attitude contrasts with the amount of time and energy that goes into each of his pieces. He works in long series, with his most recent, Monumental Nobodies, spanning 60 paintings. Each piece is thoroughly researched. Matthew took the time to get to know the historic figure each statue represents, and their own twisted history. The series depicts monuments from all over the world, such as the George Washington statue in New York. Matthew has then embellished the effigies with a darkly humorous twist.
Before he began the monument series, Matthew was inspired by photographer Sebastiao Salgado’s Workers of the World, a recognition and tribute to some of the world’s poorest and most neglected people. This spurred Matthew to visit the Bolivian miners featured in Salgado’s work, who use dynamite with little caution for their own safety.
Matthew’s new focus is utilising his design and advertising background. He’s begun to work on copper to create advertising-inspired paintings, which he envisions as similar to a double page ad spread in magazines. “I was really interested in branding and the notion of the brand,” he says.
Using oil paints on copper is not without challenges. “It’s problematic because it’s so slippery,” explains Matthew, “but once you get past that first point, it takes it to an interesting place.” Using copper takes his brand of what he terms ‘conceptual realism’ to a different place to previous works on canvas.
Realism wasn’t always what Matthew set out to produce. However, creating a “visual baby talk” in his design career – simplifying everything – drove him to it. He found himself drawn to producing paintings with more and more detail.
In producing these realistic pieces, Matthew still aims to trigger a response from the viewer. He hopes to create “works that make people think” and are “about a connection that’s beyond the self”.
Towards the end of the year, Matthew will add another show to his already extensive list of exhibitions. So far he’s had 11 solo shows, most of which have sold out, as well as numerous group exhibitions.
Check out our chat with Matthew in the video below!