Peter Matthews

Peter Matthews’ approach to art-making is entirely unique: he travels the world, ocean to ocean, where he creates a make-shift drawing-table/flotation-device upon which he will abscond himself – for hours at a time – in the ocean, recording what he sees and experiences in a stream-of-consciousness manner.

His works are thereafter torn into shreds upon the beach, where he sits throughout the day restitching the works into complete pieces to be mounted upon a canvas when he returns to his native UK. Through the simplicity of the works, Matthews comments as much on performance and ‘the conceptual’ as he does the two-dimensional picture plane. For these paintings are about man’s inability to recapture the momentary sublime held in the vastness of nature, the bleak romanticism in the ocean as it consumes and intoxicates.

Through extended hours (sometimes up to 12 hours adrift, alone at sea,) Matthews works in real time through a very direct approach and immediate relationship with the ocean, where it becomes evident that his process is so much less about craftsmanship or material and much more about an idea connected to nature and personal spirituality.

There is an immediacy and connectivity in Matthews’ practice that articulates something that a painting cannot – for a painting is about production, and these drawings are not about the artist’s studio or statement: they are about a place and moment in time. He often pairs his works with videos which offer the most straightforward documentation of a practice defined by its very indefiniteness, and the presence of video may be more apt to contextualize something beautiful and profound that art-making may not be able to fully explain.

PETER MATTHEWS (b.1978, Derby, England) lives in England and works along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. He graduated with a BA in Fine Art with honours and an MFA from Nottingham Trent University. ​

Solo exhibitions include: Shape Shifter, BEERS London (2022); Grounded, Gylnn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, Wales (2021); ​Between the Ocean, the Sky and Ourselves, White Conduit Projects, London (2020);​ ​The Former Bank of Hiroshima (supported by the Daiwa-Anglo Japanese Foundation), Japan (2019); The National Maritime Museum (supported by the Arts Council, England), Royal Museums, Greenwich, London (2019); The End Is Where They Start From, BEE​RS London (2019); The End Is Where They Start From (cat), Montoya, Barcelona, Spain (2018); From t​he Pacific to the Atlantic, Strange Cargo, Folkestone, Kent (2017); In Search of the Sublime, BEERS London (2016); Artissima Torino, Turin, Italy (2016); and Surroundings, BEERS London, (2013).

Group exhibitions include: Ikon For Artists, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2021); Pacific Breeze II, White Conduit Projects, London (2021); Wisdom and Nature, Christie’s New York and Christie’s London (2020); Zona Maco, BEERS London (2019); Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019, 2018, 2017); Underwater, Filatoio di Caraglio, Caraglio, Italy (2019); John Moores Painting Prize, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2018); Sea Marks, Drawing Centre, New York (2011); Landscape at the James Cohan Gallery, New York (2012); and 0:60 The Experience of Time Through Contemporary Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, US.

Awards and residencies include: Hugh Casson Drawing Prize, Royal Academy of Art (2022); The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York (2020); Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship (2019); The Arts Council of England (2019, 2017); John Moores Painting Prize (2018); Hugh Casson Drawing Prize, Royal Academy of Art (2017); Scripps Institute of Oceanography Residency, California (2015); and Francois Schneider Contemporary Talents Finalist, France (2014). Matthews’ works have been collected by the Coppel Collection, The National Maritime Museum, Soho House Collection and various other public and private collections internationally and throughout the UK.