MATTHEW STRADLING — BEAUTIFUL VIOLENCE

OTTAWA’S LA PETITE MORT GALLERY IS HOME TO AN INCREDIBLY ROSTER OF TALENT, INLCUDING ENGLISH PAINTER MATTHEW STRADLING. IN THE INTERVIEW WITH DIRTY, THE ARTIST SPILLS ON FIGURES, BEAUTIFUL VIOLENCE, & DYING HIS PUBIC HAIR.
TEXT Paul Bruno
PHOTOGRAPHY Jonathan Dredge

 

 

DIRTY: WHERE WERE YOU BORN?  IS THAT WHERE YOU GREW UP?

MATTHEW STRADLING: I was born in Broxbourne, a suburban town just north of London. Yes I grew up there – it was terminally boring! I ran away to London as soon as possible.

 

D: WERE YOU AN ARTISTIC CHILD?

MS: Yes, I was a quiet and sensitive boy who was always playing with his fingers. My mother knick-named me ‘Fingers’.

 

D: ANY OTHER CREATIVES IN YOUR FAMILY?

MS: Not really – my father was a tailor, which I guess, is a form of artistry.

 

D: DO YOU HAVE ANY SIBLINGS?

MS: Yes, one brother – he is a policeman.

 

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D: I TAKE IT YOU STUDIED PAINTING?  WHERE?

MS: Yes, I studied to be ‘Bachelor in Fine Art’ at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London and went on to become a ‘Master in Fine Art’ at the University of Reading.

 

D: WHEN WORKING ON YOUR FIGURES, HOW MANY LAYERS DO YOU USUALLY WORK IN?  DOES IT VARY?

MS: When painting figures I do it very organically, so its difficult to say how many layers I work in. There really is no defined method to my technique – I just keep modeling the paint until it’s done.

 

D: HOW DO PEOPLE RESPOND TO YOUR WORK?

MS: Many different ways: some are in awe of the technique I use, others are seduced by the eroticism or opulence of the imagery, others embarrassed by it’s sexually explicit nature, others horrified by it’s rawness, others question my intentions and others just get it and don’t fight against it and find themselves moved on a human level.

 

D: IS THIS VIOLENT BLOODY THEME THAT YOU’RE EXPLORING IN YOUR BOXER SERIES A NEW CURIOSITY, OR HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN PRESENT IN YOUR WORK?

MS: I think it always been present in my work but not so raw and visceral as it is now. I have always had an interest in depictions of vulnerability, especially of men. There has always been an interest in mixing images of desire and repulsion.

 

D: IS THERE A UNIFYING THEME / MESSAGE BEHIND YOUR WORK?

M: I think the unifying theme in my work is connection with the viewer – the need for me to communicate deep human human feelings that are normally quite difficult to express in everyday life; to share the difficult feelings like loneliness, vulnerability, fear, desire and tenderness and ultimately to transform these feelings into a single beautiful timeless image.

 

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D: WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT?

MS: I am currently working on a series of small-scale paintings of boxers faces for an exhibition at La Petite Mort Gallery in Ottawa, Canada in August. I am also experimenting with some new photo pieces. It’s a new and exciting project that I’m enjoying playing with.

 

D: WHAT OTHER PAINTERS INSPIRE YOU?

MS:Sadie Lee, Jenny Saville, Philip Jones, Raqib Shaw, Peter Paul Rubens, Gustave Moreau.

 

D: UPCOMING SHOWS OR PROJECTS?

MS: Several shows with La Petite Mort Gallery – the Boxers series in August, a group show called ‘The Infadels’ in December as well as various ventures into Europe that Guy Berube the director of La Petit Mort is organizing, one in Berlin already confirmed. Future personal projects are a series of works about my mother and another series about Siouxsie Sioux (of Siouxsie and the Banshees), both of whom have modeled for me. I’m also continuing to work on the photo pieces – a series of which are currently on show at ‘Gasoline Rainbow’ an exhibition at Gallery CS13 in Cinncinatti.

 

D: WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT?

MS: Very early Bowie (pre-Ziggy Stardust), The Czars, and Hi NRG

 

D: DO YOU WATCH ANY TELEVISION?

MS: As little as possible.

 

D: HAVE ANY OF YOUR PIECES MADE INTO ANY COLLECTIONS THAT YOU’RE PROUD TO MENTION?

MS: I have a collector of my work in London called John Stanbury, who has over 30 pieces of my work. I’m very grateful to him for his appreciation and support. His house is like a museum of me! The singer Marc Almond who I greatly admire has four pieces in his collection. I was very honored that the first piece I ever sold was to Derek Jarman, the iconic film-maker. I felt very priviledged to be included in his collection but I don’t know what has happened to his estate since his death.

 

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D: WHAT/WHO INSPIRES YOU CREATIVELY?

MS: What inspires me creatively? The polarities of pain and joy; beauty and horror; peace and flux, which we experience in Life. The search to find meaning and spirituality in our lives. People who are honest. The belief that there is more to life than think there is.

 

D: NAME SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO MEET SOMEDAY?

MS: Genesis P.Orridge

 

D: TELL ME SOMETHING NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOU:

MS: I dye my pubess

 

MATTHEWSTRADLING.COM

 

 

 






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