Interview: Matthew Land
A realist painter talks about the wussification of the human race and the risk of putting oneself out there, artistically.
[This article originally appeared in print as the cover story in issue 47.]
Reviewer Rob: Talk about the metaphor of the Lighter Series, how the modern butane lighter is a powerful tool of civilization. Is it a good tool but one that has also led to the “wussification” of the human race? Should things like Bic lighters and canned food be rationed, maybe?
Matthew Land: “The lighter series is a nod to Andy Warhol’s soup can series and the pop art movement in general. I chose the Bic Lighter because I think it has a very classical look and it is often taken for granted. I chose to paint it as a tribute to the style of Myron Stephens and Alan Magee, because I really love their still lifes and the masterful realism they paint in. Humans used to have to work for fire and it was a very sacred tool but in modern times we can hold it in our pocket and discard it when its used up. I feel this has a significance in modern society because we are so used to instant gratification. I think the tools that allowed us to sustain as a species have also led to our pussification. We don’t have to hunt to eat, we can buy food in cans that can last us years. Same with fire.”
“My current series is focused on the construction/destruction of metaphorical walls that humans put up to protect themselves from societal truths/justify beliefs that were either inborn, or learned over their lives. I grew up in a newly developed, white, upper-class suburb near Sacramento, CA. Growing up, my friends and I spent a lot of time in new homes that were being built (by the thousand) and though these were very nice, beautiful homes, the land that was used for the developments was far more beautiful. It was a natural environment that was eradicated to make way for mini-mansions, parks, office buildings, etc. I use the construction framework in my paintings to depict an actual wall and use it as the subject for the metaphor. The framework for a belief. I used Walter Matthau in one of these paintings because he often ;played characters who were set in their ways, crotchety, or grumpy (i.e. Grumpy Old Men). I really like his face too. I was watching one of his films and just thought, he (or his character) is exactly like the old man that I wanted to paint.”
“The Steampunk pieces are for the Victorian Steam exhibit at the Edward-Dean Museum in Cherry Valley, CA. The exhibit examines the connection between Victorian and Steampunk art, and will open on December 7th for their annual Dickens Fair. The museum asked Melissa Walker of Distinction Gallery and ArtHatch if any artists wanted to do a piece for the show. I submitted work and was chosen to participate.”
I asked Matthew about the meaning of the paintings he’s done that depict penises. They appeared to be popular with tAlexander Salazar, the owner of White Box Contemporary Gallery on Seventh Avenue, for whom Land performed as one of the final Artist In Residence painters before the gallery lost the small space that project occupied on Broadway and apparently discontinued the program:
“The Gloryhole Series started as an homage to a friend of mine who draws dicks on everything he possibly can, like that kid in the movie Superbad. So I thought it would be funny to do a series of realistic dicks as opposed to cartoon dicks. I realized while painting the first one that it’s a metaphor for the way I feel when I display my artwork. Kinda like letting it all hang out, very vulnerable. Kinda like sticking your dick through a hole in the wall and waiting for someone to suck it. Or bite it off … hahaha!”
Matthew Land is also an avid collector of local artists and is part of a close-knit group of painters who get together and trade each other’s work, of which Land is proud. I asked him if he has closing thoughts…
“I own pieces by Brandon Roth, Victor Villa, Jimmy Ovadia, Cameron Frey, Acamonchi, Mr. Benja, Carlos Beltran, Keemowerks, Spenser Little, Jaclyn Rose, Dan Allen, and Eric Wixon. I would love to get a Myron Stephens, Shay Davis, Zach Timberlake, Bret Barret, E.Vil, Sean Brannon, Miguel Angel Godoy, Christopher Konecki, Brian Hebets – the list goes on and on. I have super talented friends and acquaintances. Its fuckin staggering. And my cat Stella Bellafonte.”
“Come see work by Acamonchi, Invisible God, and myself at Lateralization, December 13th at Visual’s new location in North Park! I will also have a piece in Low Gallery’s Fast Forward show next door. Also, Power Animals 4, Dec 20th at TPG2. Also, buy work from everyone I mentioned in this interview. You will not be disappointed. And I want to thank my girlfriend, Angela. I would be nothing without her support and encouragement. She is my muse.”