Peter Matthews’ approach to art-making is entirely unique: he travels the world, ocean to ocean, where he then 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. Most recently, 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, Matthew’s comments as much on performance and ‘the conceptual’ as he does the two-dimensional picture plane. For these are paintings that are not really about painting at all, but rather 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 is working 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 draftsmanship or material and more about an idea connected to nature and personal spirituality. Matthews seeks to question and challenge the nature of the artwork, whether an artwork can approach the metaphysical, and even momentarily take us closer to nature with him. There is an immediacy and connectivity in Matthews’ practice that articulates something that even 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. Most recently, he has begun pairing his works with videos which offer perhaps the most straightforward documentation of a practice defined by its very indefiniteness, its incalculability, and the presence of video may be more apt to contextualize something beautiful and profound that art-making, even after hours and hours drifting in the ocean, may not be able to fully explain for his viewer.
PETER MATTHEWS (b.1978, Derby, England) lives and works in Leicester, England. He graduated with a BA in Fine Art with honours and an MFA from Nottingham Trent University. Solo exhibitions include ‘The End Is Where They Start From’, BEERS London (2019); Pasaje Montoya, Barcelona, Spain (2018); ‘From the Pacific to the Atlantic’, Strange Cargo, Folkestone, Kent (2017); ‘In Search of the Sublime’, Beers London (2016); ‘Surroundings’, Beers London, (2013); ‘Continuum’, James Cohan Gallery, New York (2011); and ‘Sea Marks’, Mendes Wood DM, Sao Paulo (2011). He was a 2014 finalist in the Francois Schneider Contemporary Talents competition in France. In 2015, he completed an artist resident at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography California, and was also shortlisted on the Sky Arts programme ‘Landscape Artist of the Year’. In 2017 he was awarded the Hugh Casson Drawing Prize at Royal Academy of Arts, London. He was selected for the John Moores Painting Prize in 2018, and also showed a large body of works on paper at the Saatchi Gallery, London in the spring, curated by Sacha Craddock. His works have been collected by the Coppel Collection, The National Maritime Museum, and various other public and private collections internationally and throughout the UK. Matthews’ fair history includes a solo showing with BEERS London at ‘Artissima’, Torino (2016) and a group presentation at Zona Maco, Mexico City (2019). Upcoming exhibitions in 2019 include a major installation at the Royal Museums Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum in June, supported by the Arts Council of England, and an institutional solo show at the Hiroshima City Hall in Japan in the autumn supported by the Daiwa-Anglo Japanese Foundation. Matthews is a 2019 recipient of a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship, which will see him undertake a major new body of works across the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the USA in the summer of 2019.