A few years ago I came across some paintings on instagram of landscapes by artist Matt Murphy, that I loved. The California in Matt’s paintings was immediately familiar to me, and the color palettes and the energy drew me in right away.
Im always drawn to artists who have a point of view and are fearless when it comes to expressing their work with color, because it’s the language I speak in my own work.
Matt Murphy makes deeply saturated and layered paintings that in my opinion express his love of California, and more specifically the desert. His paintings remind me of the insides of stone fruit you’d find in the summer, pluots, peaches, apricots but mixed with bright blue play dough and fluorescent high lighters. His first show was really focused on the far away vistas, mountains, hills, sun sets.
Recently he had a show in Venice called Freak of Nature, that he speaks about below.
I had a studio visit with Matt this fall that we had talked about doing for the past couple of years, and finally got around to doing post vaccinations. To see more of Matt’s work check out his instagram and website.
For my recent show, Freak of Nature, I continued my fascination and exploration of the California high desert.
From the rich hues and fluid shapes, to the endless variety of alien cacti – the desert is such a profound backdrop to explore.
Even though I’ve been making art my whole life, and studied graphic design at RISD, the practice of painting is still very new to me. For the past three years, I’ve pushed myself to explore the world around me in full color – versus just black and white drawings.
The more I played with color, the more I realized how much of a missing ingredient it was for me, and how it fueled my path forward.
For me, art is all about methodology and routine – you have to make art part of a daily practice. So that’s exactly what I did. Over time, and many many experiments, I started to create my own process for how the desert would come to life. Rather than using one single paint brush – I began connecting them together – creating what I now call, super brushes. With some as large as 60″, these super brushes became the first step to each painting that I make.
Artistically, I’m influenced by so many both past and present. From Van Gogh’s sketchbooks in Arles to Calder’s ‘Circus’, I’m constantly feeding off of how people SEE the world – and then re-present back with new understanding, or texture, or whimsy.
In terms of straight up artists who I deeply love and admire – Ed Ruscha and Ken Price are very high on my list.
I’m inspired by how their body of work expands over time – across all kinds of mediums and subject matters.
At this moment in my practice, making art is both about finding my voice and honing the presentation of my craft – all the while making sure there’s a ‘give back’ quality. I’m constantly auctioning off my paintings or using my work to raise money for needed causes in the world. As I look to nature as a source of beauty – doing all I can to help protect and give back to it is key.