May 28, 2009
Interview With BOS Artist: Matt Jones
**Matt Jones will be showing his work at 505 Johnson Ave, #19**
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Oh great! I grew up in a suburb of Rochester, New York, in a loving and supportive environment, played loads of baseball and video games, and drew pictures since I could hold a crayon. At some point I realized being an artist was a real possibility and started seriously studying and practicing. I was accepted to the Cooper Union, left for New York that fall (1998), and have lived here ever since. I've had a couple of solo exhibitions with the now defunct Buia Gallery here in New York and have had work in group shows in the city and around the country.
I'm really interested in presence, the infinite moments in any duration of time, the shifting understanding of things relative to those infinite moments, and our collective agreed upon understanding of reality, and the implications of all of that. The paintings and drawings I have been making for the last year are the contemplative exploration of these attitudes and ideas.
What project(s) will you be showing during this year's open studios festival?
Space-paintings and spirit-paintings mostly.
What inspired this project?
Originally the space-paintings were started in response to an unfruitful critique taking place at the Yale/Norfolk Summer School of Painting (2001) I was in where things were said like "I'm really thinking about space, the space around objects ..." -- I felt alienated from such a discussion. It seemed academic and silly to me. Of course the paintings were about space. So, I went back to my little studio and made four or five space-paintings and the following day had a critique of these works and said something to the effect of "I'm really thinking about space, you know, like OUTER space ..." which was half true and caused a bit of a stir in the critique (some people knew what I was up to). I think a lot about outer space, but really my concerns were the same as the other guy, I was pushing around paint and trying to make something meaningful and, sure, I was serious about it too. I didn't think the discussion had to be so BORING though, devoid of content and all, the formal discussion, what was the painting about really? What was the content? Eight years later the content for my space-paintings has become clearer to me through various spiritual and meditative practices and studies I incorporate into my life. There needed to be a place, a specific point in the flow of infinite points in any space, for the spirits to inhabit. They needed to BE somewhere. So they're in space and it's scary and soothing simultaneously. I didn't want to put them there though, not overtly, I want them to want to go there -- or for us to think they'd want to go there, or to look at the possibility of this space being home for them, an extra-dimensional home that is all space, everywhere, all of the time.
The spirit-paintings came after studying about "the hungry ghost" at the Interdependence Project (on Bowery just north of Houston in the city). I thought, yes, this metaphor works, this insatiable desire machine. That's a facet of our existence, the wanting for whatever, love, hope, food, luxury goods, happiness -- mostly happiness. Then it developed further with some ideas I had played around with when I was taking some interdisciplinary classes at Cooper where we read a bunch of Deleuze (1000 Plateaus) that made me think a lot about agreed upon understandings of things and slight variations of reality which are then blown up into multiple dimensions and versions of people (presences) and how they've been labeled and talked about through time (mythology, stories, etc.). So, they continue to develop and now have a place to hang out (space-paintings). They're the big questions, you know? Who are we? How did we get here? What do we do?
Any plans in the works?
Oh yes! I was talking on the phone to my friend Mark Gibson and the idea occurred to me that I need to remake my favorite paintings I've made over the last ten years on 10 x 8" canvases and have an exhibition entitled "10 Years of Matt Jones: the Greatest Hits" or something like that. I'd re-scale all of these paintings I've made since deciding to become a painter in 1999 to the present moment. We joked about having a panel of close artist-friends discuss what the hell I've been doing these last ten years and take it really seriously, with an audience and what-not. It'd be very helpful I think.
How long have you lived in Bushwick, and what initially drew you to the neighborhood?
From 2004 to 2006 I lived on Troutman Street between Knickerbocker and Wilson Avenues. To be honest the cheap rent drew me. My current studio is located on the fringe of Bushwick's northern most point, almost to East Williamsburg. After searching for a studio for a while with my friend Kadar Brock I hooked up with the Brooklyn Fireproof guys and took over a pretty raw space. It's the same studio I had dreamed of since coming to New York. I love it.
Can you recommend any Bushwick artists or art venues that you think we should check out?
Wunder Kraft Haus at Master Kontrol, I don't think they're participating in anything for BOS this year, are pretty awesome. They live on Myrtle Ave under the M Train and have this whole future/80s/spiritual/sci-fi/high-energy/imaginative/amazing thing going on at their space and I've enjoyed them as colleagues and friends for the last two years immensely. Any time they have an event it's worth checking out. WKH's Patrick Groneman is one of the "spirits" I photographed to work on in my paintings and drawings and he initially introduced me to the Interdependence Project. They're an inspirational group of fellows.
Thank you Matt!
To learn more about Matt's art practice, check out his website.