No title, 2013-2016, mixed media on found paper, 30 x 21 cm each.
TO: What was your earliest intimation that you were going to be an artist?
MA: I broke my writing hand when I was 14 playing school rugby. I was forced to complete the rest of the year with my right hand. Art class became incredibly interesting I had to take a different approach to painting still life. It made me loosen up and re-think what painting can be. It was my first memory at been taken by abstraction
Are there aphorisms, are there words of advice you were given which you sometimes bear in mind when you are making a work?
Someone once said this to me and I away think about it…for there to be parts that look ‘too good’, painterly gesture/colour decisions that fit – its so hard to know why sometimes this works in the service of the painting and sometimes seems to be satisfying the painter.
How do objects or found material influence your approach to making art?
I am constantly looking for objects or in particular previously used paper. Paper with water marks, faded areas and printed blocks of colour. Some of the papers I have used in my work are from the 1940s. Other paper I have found I still cannot bring myself to paint on, as the qualities the paper already holds can be enough.
When you make a work, what are the qualities you would like it to evidence?
I often feel like I am working out space in paintings – a constant push and pull, always coming back to the surface. There is a lot of scumble and drag, scratching and dry-brushing. I always try to challenge myself to make paintings that are stripped back and have room to breathe. I’m interested in the tension between having somewhere for your eyes to sit so you can jump back into the more gestural immediate marks – a resting place for your eyes so you can jump back into the party.
Which Australian artists do you admire and respect the most?
Which artists have influenced you longest and deepest?
Eduardo Vuillard, Judy Millar, Joel Rickerby
What are the qualities you prize in your chosen medium/media?
The scumble. A hint of dry brushing is one of my favourite marks in painting.
What are the things that attract you to abstraction? What is it that attracts you to specific objects? How do these two streams intermingle and relate within your own work?
Works that are bold, simple, and confident. Abstraction is attractive as it has an openness of interpretation or response.
Where do you find the objects that inform your artwork? Do you collect other objects that sit outside of your art practice?
If I am not looking for paper in hard rubbish or abandoned buildings, I use a camera and shoot on film as a way of drawing and composing ideas. An important part of this process is bringing my eye right up to the viewfinder and using the physical frame to create the composition as opposed to composing the image on a digital screen. There is a considered immediacy that I am drawn to: a suspended moment. I am very particular about what I choose to shoot, and tend to be economical with film as I am often limited to 24 or 36 shots. Both of these processes of finding paper and taking photos are often done at the same time.
How do objects facilitate the visual language within your work? How do found objects coalesce within a composition or direct its form and structure?
When working over found paper, I always am responding to what already exists as these details are why I have picked it up in the first place.
Do you feel any affinities or connections between your own work and that of say Picasso, Braque or Motherwell? Have they influenced your own practice directly / indirectly?
I’d say indirectly: their practises are inspirational in the fact there are incredible prolific! They are constantly responding to things around them and acting/ making. When I look in to all three artist practises I see huge similarities of process and response.
What are the most inspiring books about art and artists that you have ever read?
Anything else you would like to add?
Download PDF of interview matt-arbuckle
Matt Arbuckle was born in 1989 in New Zealand. He graduated from Unitec Auckland with Major in Painting and Honours in Visual Communication. His works have been exhibited in Australia, New Zealand and Europe in recent years. In 2016 alone, he has held four solo exhibitions, and Repurpose at the Drill Hall Gallery will be his sixth group exhibition this year.
Arbuckle’s work is framed by a discourse between construction and deconstruction. The space and perspective he creates through blatant and sometimes aggressive strokes of paint is of no direct representation, and hence invites individual’s open response and interpretation. The artist, when explaining his inspiration, stated “my process starts with a feeling — a need to go out into the world and get re-energised or visually stimulated again. I use a camera and I shoot on film as a way of drawing and composing ideas. An important part of this process is […] using the physical frame to create the composition as opposed to composing the image on a digital screen.”
Arbuckle’s works have been collected by the Chartwell Collection, NZ and James Wallace Arts Trust, NZ.
Matt Arbuckle is represented by Tim Melville Gallery, NZ and Paul Nache Gallery, NZ.