Monday, 6 September 2010

Welcome Matte

As a Monty Python Pope once said to a Monty Python Michelangelo, I may not know much about art, but I know what I like… and what I’m liking right now is the work of Portland, Oregon artist Matt Stephens. I recently bought a print of his painting Forest (see below, it’s the one with the umbrella) but could easily have been persuaded to part with my money (if I had any) for another three or four on display in the Outré Gallery in Melbourne.

Forest (c) Matte Stephens

I’m not sure what it is about his work that I like so much, but he’s even managed to make me desire his pictures of cats which, if you knew how much I hate pictures of cats, is some accomplishment. Animals (especially owls, dogs, cats and erm, seals) and nature (lovely autumnal trees, parks, rivers and the ocean) feature strongly in his work, as does a faintly aristocratic olde world high society inhabited by pipe smoking adventurers and Jacques Cousteau types.

Owl and Pigeon Costume Party (c) Matte Stephens

I find you have to be careful with this kind of stuff so as not to cross Kooky River and get washed up on the cutesy rocks of Twee Island but Mr Stephens successfully navigates these tricky waters with aplomb. There’s an appealing mid-20th Century flavour running through his work which evokes Roman Holiday romance and Jacques Tati-style misadventure. There’s also something faintly exciting about his skyscrapers and ocean liners that evokes the kind of fascination people in Europe had for America before they went and globalised the world. It’s likely his Arriving in Stockholm will be arriving on my wall pretty soon.

Arriving in Stockholm (c) Matte Stephens

Anyway, please go and have a look at Matte’s art on his blog ( or via his Flickr account, here. Even if you only have five minutes to spare it’ll be an enjoyable use of your time. Melbourne types can have a gander at the real thing in the ever-marvellous Outré Gallery in Elizabeth Street.

No comments: