May 21st, 2020
By Veronica Vale
The portfolio of Wyoming-based artist Matt Flint demonstrates in luminous color and textured strokes the artist’s deep affinity for nature and its inhabitants. Whether you’re standing before one of his hauntingly beautiful wolf portraits or gazing peacefully at one of his delicate swan paintings, Matt Flint’s renown wildlife paintings are sure to capture your attention, evoking the same passion that went into its creation.
As a couple of our beloved collectors, Liz and Van Novack, put it,
“Matt’s love for his subject matter is always evident in his work.”
His recent exploration of human portraiture is no exception.
In his most 2020 exhibition, “Forward Echo,” Matt Flint begins to incorporate human figures into what he has deemed his most fulfilling body of work in recent years. Such an exciting artistic venture sparked our curiosity and inspired us to delve deeper into the artists’ recent inspiration, process, and his new work’s reception.
With that in mind, we present you with our interview with the artist, Matt Flint, along with a few lovely words from his top collectors:
Gallery MAR: What inspired your recent exploration of portraiture in your latest exhibition?
Matt Flint: While I have mostly painted animals in recent years, in the past I have also painted the human figure, landscapes, interiors, and pure abstractions.
I have been thinking about painting portraits again for awhile. I try not to limit myself to one particular subject or genre and feel comfortable working in all manner of ways and with all manner of subjects. It’s all one big painting! My recent travels to Amsterdam and Vienna reconnected me face to face with some of my personal artistic heroes: Vincent van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, and Egon Schiele to name a few.
Gallery MAR: How have these artists influenced your style of portraiture?
Matt Flint: These artists were interested in experimentation, expression, their own connection to art history, and the search for meaning. No matter the subject, they tapped into something quite human and fragile. These are qualities I search for in my own paintings. The physical mark making and paint handling; the balance between abstraction and representation and between drawing and painting; and the eclectic approaches of Klimt, van Gogh, and Schiele are filtered into this body of work.
The inspiration especially came from viewing the works of Klimt in the Leopold Museum in Vienna. The bold, graphic quality of his work mixed with painterly marks and decorative patterns defy categorization. My work has always been a bit hard to put in a neat little box, so I naturally have an affinity with those artists that avoided easy labels.
My human figures tend to be females because of the historical and mythological ideas of life giver, nurturer, and Mother Earth, along with my own personal relationship with strong women.
Gallery MAR: In what ways, if any, has your process changed when approaching portraiture as opposed to approaching wildlife paintings?
Matt Flint: Regardless of the subject matter, painting for me is a slow and often frustrating process. To get the results I want, I have to continuously challenge myself. When I begin, I do not want to know what the painting will look like in the end. Where is the fun in that? I use any and every type of material to make a painting. As a piece goes through the cycles of creation and destruction, it accumulates a truthful history of the process and the human that painted it.
I do whatever is needed and use whatever materials are needed to make the piece work. I might layer an expressionistic bold approach with impressionistic and painterly brush work over classically delicate layers of thin glazes. This is all while pulling in uncommon materials like marble dust, cold wax, metal leafing, metallic paints, powdered pigments, shellac, auto paint, etc.
If the work is developing too easily and without struggle, I purposefully do something to create a problem. I might quickly paint over an area with an unflattering color, or mark or obscure an area with another medium, or completely remove the subject matter. This is done so that I have to be responsive. It is like going for a nice hike on a well-worn trail, but then deciding to jump into a glacier-fed, rapidly-moving river: it’s a slap in the face, it wakes you up quickly and makes you respond.
This body of work has a nuanced depth and richness of surface that is a reflection of the beautiful struggle of my painting process. There is an emerging and dissolving quality between subject and environment. Everything is alive and moving, yet heavy and still. Making this body of work has been the most fulfilling time I’ve had in the studio in recent years.