Irish artist Matthew Knight is one of the people I’ve been in contact with for quite a while through CFYE. So when I heard Matthew had a solo exhibition in the Go Gallery, Amsterdam I decided to finally get out of my sweatpants and drag myself towards the Gallery on a rainy Saturday evening, to meet the kind man and have an up-close and personal look at his art. I am absolutely glad I did as it was great to meet Matthew, and maybe even more important, the exhibition was smashing!
Matthew Knight was born in Cambridge, lived in Lahor, Pakistan untill the age of 13, continued his life in Belfast, North Ireland and since 2012 settled in London. Matthew told me that he has been working non-stop for over two months. This resulted in an exhibition with 20 incredibly varied pieces on canvas, wood, tables and other objects and the fitting title ‘Closet Eccentric’. We asked Matthew a few questions about his exhibition and his artworks.
You’ve spent two full months preparing this show. Are you happy everything finally came together?
Relieved! I worked my ass off everyday for the 2 months. Overall this is the proudest I ever felt about a show in terms of the work I produced. For once I really had thought through and prepared the ideas before starting.
How did you experience exhibiting in the Go Gallery?
They have been absolutely fucking awesome to be honest. Oscar and Farud (who run the place) have been so nice and supportive to me that I cannot thank them enough. Working on 2 paintings for them at the moment to return the favour in some small way for how they’ve treated me. Its a great space and I was stoked to see my work filling it up.
In those two months you obviously had to do a lot of woodwork. How did you experience working with wooden material and where did the idea to work with wood come from?
Islam! Sounds odd as I’m not religious in the slightest but I grew up in Pakistan and was surrounded everywhere by the geometric patterns of Islamic art and as a kid and to this day I find it to be a pretty cool art form. I’m trying to incorporate a lot of ideas into my work in some way that don’t confuse everybody looking at it. I’ve been painting on all sorts of objects for years now and instead of just painting onto the found objects I wanted to start making something with them. I’d collected a lot of old woods from the streets and alleys around my neighbourhood and just took a chance on the idea of fitting different woods together into geometric patterns. My Dad is a seriously good model maker and has such a knowledge of crafting woods together. Its the same with my Uncle back in Northern Ireland, only he’s a proper carpenter and knows about everything there is know about trees and the different types of wood out there. It must be in the genes as I really have found I love carpentry.
I saw quite some works inspired by Tintin, how did that came about?
I’m a really big fan of Tintin, the comics feature some of the best artwork to be found in a comic book that’s out there. For the show I just wanted to reflect on the experiences I had of growing up in the East and the West and so tried to create this mix of pop culture, styles, and differing ideas. I think it can be a little confusing for someone looking at the show and trying to make sense of it, which is al right as that’s what it was like for me growing up.
How was the collaboration with Koos form Dutch Art Collaboration?
Working with Koos was great. We had never met before and got on straight away. Very nice guy and for someone his age is very brave to be running a business and juggle university at the same time. Alot of respect for what he’s trying to do. We both share a love for old shit and abandoned places.If there’s any artists reading this and think they could have some fun painting old objects and furniture they should contact him and submit some ideas.
I saw one piece on a round table (hanging on the wall) which you made a few years back I was told. How do you think your work differs from a few years ago?
I hadn’t seen that in a while,it was interesting to see it next to my new stuff. I think I’ve learnt to tighten up my painting as pick out better colour combinations. The biggest change tho has to be my understanding of light and shadow as I noticed some mistakes with regards to that.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am working on a show with an artist called Boxhead. We are combing my Cubehead character and her Boxhead together and gonna do a Trilogy of shows. This will entail the Birth,Life and Death of Cubehead and Boxhead. Its an ambitious idea so we’re concentrating on part one of it. So far we have 8 or 9 seriously trippy ideas planned out. We’re taking both of the characters and doing something completely new with them looking at what we love and hate about them so much.
Also working on some commissions, 2 toys and hopefully finally breaking into illustration as well as I wanna earn some money for once. Being an artist is not easy sometimes.
Matthew Knight’s ‘Closet Eccentric’ exhibition is open untill 16/01/2013 in the Go Gallery in Amsterdam