Continuing our new series of artist talks, SPIEL presents Matt Mackman.
Matt Mackman’s Art has been influenced by two major life experiences: living in Cornwall as a child, and surviving severe Meningitis.
Matt was born and raised in Cornwall; this instilled a sense of independence and fight in him, as he became connected to notions of identity, both personally and collectively. This was enhanced when as a teenager Matt moved with his family to Suffolk then Essex and out of his comfort zone.
This sense of the fight came into play again, when at the age of 15 he was hit by the potentially fatal disease Meningitis – a lasting memory is that of his last rites being read to him (on two separate occasions). This set the tone for his ongoing work that reflects the ageing process and mortality, but also affected him in another way: whilst in a comatose state he suffered a series of repetitive dreams, which he feels was his visual life flashing before his eyes.
Recent work builds on these recurring themes, with reference to the modern world of 24-hour advertising, whilst also reflecting the impact of Matt’s 24-hour, coma-induced, stream of imagery. He has spent the last 3 years honing a collection of 20 paintings that meld Street Art and Fine Art.
Billboard posters, found imagery, stencilling, paint, papers, varnishes and powders are amongst the materials and techniques used to create this collection. One painting uses marble dust from a grave stone engraver to reflect a sense of mortality. Matt combines elements in this way to produce multi-layered and rich-textured work that invites the viewer to look closer… and then closer still.
Graffiti, journals/diaries and popular culture are all referenced in the collection. Slick advertising campaigns are altered, logos distorted, meaning is changed, to challenge preconceived ideas of beauty, and the impermanence of the physical form.
Matt intends to take the viewer on a dreamlike journey through the collection of paintings: at times feeling comforted and uplifted by familiar forms – partly because of the existing content and imagery used, whilst at other times feeling a sense of unease or discomfort.
Beauty and decay. Life and death. Light and dark. Dreams and nightmares. These are the things that keep Matt awake (and painting) at night.