Interview With Artist
By Carin Chea
Matthew Sketch is a fascinating, original and prolific artist whose work cannot be easily categorized because it encompasses such a wide range of topics from house flies to intricate mathematic formulas.
Mr. Sketch is truly an artist's artist; anything and everything is a possibility when it comes to his art, no matter how seemingly mundane or overwhelmingly complicated. Studying his work, I couldn't help but notice the undeniable presence of polarity in his art.
Trained as a draftsman, Mr. Sketch's work seamlessly marries structured order with abstract flow. His work contains chaos, order, and everything in between.
I had the privilege of speaking with Mr. Sketch.
I am 1000% confident that you get this question all the time, but: with a last name of "Sketch," did you feel you were destined to be an artist?
"Sketch" is my nickname. People started calling me that when I was around 20. People started calling me Sketch after my mom died. If there was something dangerous or "sketchy" to do, I was probably doing it.
How did your career as an artist come to be? How has it evolved over the years?
I quit around the time people started calling me "Sketch." It was a tough time. But, eventually, it became a way to express myself, especially with abstract art. It leaves a lot of room. I was trained as a draftsman. I worked 8-10 hours a day as a mechanical designer. I worked within a lot of constructs and confines.
My dad was a junkie and my mom was trying to figure her way through life. I could tell her things, and she would listen and wouldn't judge me. In life, you can keep your feelings to yourself, or you can tell the wrong people and they might think you're a negative person. But, now I have my art, and that's how I express myself.
You're described as an artist who has the ability to "take ordinary objects and turn them into the subjects of art." How did this come about?
I did a series on mandrill baboons, who are really ugly. I even did one on flies. I mean, actual house flies. I was trying to find beauty in something grotesque. I think that's an artist's job.
The perceived polarity in your work also reminds me of a phrase that is used to describe you: "simply complicated." Could you unpack this description for me?
Somebody called me that, and it's because I'm structured in my approach to things. I like to try to have control because I had none growing up. I think I don't work well outside of it. When I get outside of structure, it gets complicated.
You have an art gallery - The Dimebox Gallery. Tell me about this sacred space of yours, and what the impetus was to embark on this journey?
We really just wanted to have another place to show the art. I'm not super-social, so I don't have a lot of people over at the house. There are about over 100 or 150 pieces in the basement. The gallery is supposed to be a studio where I could be surrounded by and interact with other artists. With it being a gallery, it will allow us to show their work as well.
Tell me about Obligatory Consent, the exhibit you will be opening on June 2.
We have a show every year. It's basically what I've worked on the year before. With the Simply Complicated exhibit, it was me taking things down (structurally) and making it basic.
This series [Obligatory Consent] is all derivatives of the Fibonacci Equation. I got obsessed with the equation. I was focused on it so much that I wanted to incorporate it into my art. I would mix my colors according to the Fibonacci Sequence. That's how I got the different tonal values.
These are things that aren't discernable to the eye; you're not going to look at it and say, "That's the Fibonacci Equation." It was a way for me to incorporate math with art. I didn't necessarily want to.
I spend my days with lines that have to be a certain length. It's the last thing I want to do when I get home, but it was like giving myself an assignment. It was a challenge. I paint for myself. I'm not worried about selling. I want to be prolific. I want to paint more things, better.
There is one piece that I find irresistible in your Obligatory Consent collection. It's called "Blue Stairs." Is it inspired by the Statue of Liberty? It looks like Lady Liberty's crown against the sky.
That's so funny. My fiancé's best friend said that.
No, it wasn't. I lived in New York for a few years and I never visited the statue.
What type of impact do you hope your work will leave on society?
I like to leave it open because I like to keep my conversations open. I like my paintings to be similar: open-ended. I never like my paintings until I'm finished. When I completely understand the painting, then I like it and I feel I am finished.
Any works in progress at the moment?
I had a really great snowboarding season. There's something about being in the snow. I had a conversation with my fiancé. I was explaining to her the experience of being up on a mountain. That was her first year going snowboarding, and I was trying to explain why I love it so much. It's so quiet. The snow absorbs the sound around you and you feel really, really alone. It's a peaceful alone. You can hear your heartbeat.
I've got a whole bunch of paintings I'm working on now. They're me trying to express those feelings of being on the mountain, but straying away from the paintings of busy-ness. These paintings are more minimalist. It's me expressing the solitude.
Painting solitude is hard. I think that idea came about because I had a hard time expressing it.
Who and/or what are your inspirations? Do you have a muse?
My muse is my fiancé. I paint her all the time. She's a first. I never painted any of my exes.
My mom said weird sh** that made sense later. I don't know if she knew she was planting ideas, but one day, when she was teaching me how to develop film, she said, "Your pictures are great. Don't let your talent become a gimmick."
Random questions time. If you could re-design any logo in history, which one would it be and why?
The Vueve Cliquot bottle. I think it's so perfect. It is the most well-packaged champagne. It's beautiful, and that's why I want to mess with it.
If you were to collaborate with any artist (past, present, or up-and-coming) who would it be?
I haven't collaborated with a lot of artists because I'm not super social. I just don't know how to go about it, like, "Hey dude, you wanna do art with me in my basement?" But, hopefully, that'll be a product of the gallery.
I like David Cho. I'm in awe of that guy. He does surreal, abstract things. He'll make a perfect portrait of a woman's face, and then take a glob of paint and glob all over it, except for maybe her nostril or upper lip or something. He's the essential artist. He can do anything he wants to do. He's inspired. He's prolific.
That's fascinating, this idea of perfection being messed with, because you mentioned you'd like to re-design the Vueve Cliquot bottle because it's so "perfect."
Let's say you were to be sent to Neptune for 9 months, and you were only allowed one medium in which to create art. What would you choose to take with you?
Pastels. I haven't used them since I was a little kid.
Why pastels then?
I'll have 9 months to get good at it!
True to his work, Mr. Sketch was both down-to-earth, yet profoundly transcendental.
His upcoming gallery show is on June 2 at Dimebox Gallery.
There are several ways to keep up to date on Matthew's latest happenings: via MATTHEW_SKETCH (via Instagram) and through his Facebook artist's page Matthew Sketch.
For more information on his gallery and current and upcoming exhibits, please visit www.DimeboxGallery.com.
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