Peter walked into the gallery on a medium busy Saturday. All handsome ocean man and charming, reclusive artist he managed to get his art works shown to our then gallery director Martina. When she reported about the visit of a good-looking artist from the seas I was a touch sceptical until I saw the creations myself. Peter really pushes the boundaries with his performative drawing process. Though in the tradition of land art, or in his case rather “sea art”, his drawings are less conceptual but rather drawings in the purest sense: spontaneous and literally free-flowing sketches, dictated only by the movement of the body and the water. Nature and human nature intuitively captured on paper.
Peter Matthews’ workplace is the ocean. He creates delicately cryptic and intuitive drawings and markings by immersing in the ocean and allowing nature to become part of the painting and drawing process. Equipped with a wooden drawing board and waterproof pens,
Matthews literally works directly in the open ocean, the ocean floor and costal environments. Naturally, his works are altered by nature. The canvases and drawings, soaked in water over hours and days, are visibly marked by rust, earth and numerous traces from the sea. The surfaces fundamentally changed by the unusual processing and sometimes sown together to join parts of both paintings from the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, unifying a vast geographical and personal experience in space and time.
Matthews paintings and drawings obtain the rawness of murals; illustrating the endless cycle of life and the monumentality and power of nature. What makes them particularly appealing is the moment of chance they occupy and imply. The drawings are an amalgam of thoughts, scribbles, observations and impressions that cross the artist's mind while floating in the water as Matthew's stream of consciousness fuses with a type of sequenced drawing created by the chance movements of the ocean. However, the aesthetic outcome – as unintended and random it might be – is not fully automated and allows for comparison to the free and subconsciously driven abstract works of Cy Twombly or Jasper Johns.
Even though the drawings and paintings are the tangible outcome, the drawing process and the relationship with the sea are decisive parts of the work and straddle the performative and the conceptual, the experimental and the process based inquiries. Matthew’s work hence spans painting, drawing, lens based media, sculpture and performance.
Peter Matthews works have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Europe and the US, among others the Drawing Center. They are part of public and private collections including the Rubell Family collection, Miami, the Isabel and Augustin Coppel Collection, Mexico, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California and the National Maritime Museum, London.
Exhibitions at the gallery:
Breeder, 2012 (group show with Sarah Bridgland, Pius Fox, Saad Qureshi, Katherine Murphy and Kate Terry)
Landscape and Memory, 2011 (group show with Edward Collinson, Andy Goldsworthy, Minjung Kim, Runo Lagomarsino, Richard Long and Saad Qureshi)