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Artist in Focus – Matthew Simpson

Matthew Simpson (he/him) shares his abstract compositions, including Uvala.

abstract painting of lines by Matthew Simpson

Uvala, Matthew Simpson, oil on canvas, 2022, 1015 x 1015mm

Uvala, Matthew Simpson, oil on canvas, 2022, 1015 x 1015mm

Tell us about this artwork.

Uvala is an one metre by one metre painting that I exhibited last year in a solo show called Stochastic Paintings. It is comprised of lines over a scumbled background that darkens to green at the edges. Uvala means a type of large depression in the ground but there is some debate about whether it should be a separate word in English. I have been using names of geological features as titles for my large abstract paintings for a couple of years purely as a naming convention and because I like words. Previously I have used the names of family members and places I have lived as titles for the paintings of layered lines. Uvala has less layers evident than many other paintings by me, the first layer having been rubbed away while the paint was left leaving only faint evidence of the previous lines.

What do you like about it?

I like that Uvala is a classic composition between figuration and abstraction while still displaying my fascination for layers of marks. The colours of the lines being sympathetic greens, white and earth tones make Uvala suggest a landscape. I like that it evolved naturally and that on this occasion there wasn’t a struggle to find the final form.

The composition reminds me of works by Paul Klee that also darken away from the central focus.

How long have you been working in this style?

I have been working in many styles of abstract layers of lines for more years than I care to remember! Within that sphere the styles have changed over the years to include interlocking fields of short lines, overlapping heavily layered lines, straight and curved lines, and lines that stand out in contrast to the background. I let each work develop its own path. While working in this general idiom occasionally a piece will separate itself from the look of my other abstractions. So while I have been painting lines for over twenty years I have only painted the exact style of Uvala once.

abstract painting of lines by Matthew Simpson

Zeugen, Matthew Simpson, oil on canvas, 2022, 1015 x 1015mm

What art are you working on right now?

In April I completed work for a May exhibition. Having finished the nine large paintings on canvas and ten works on paper I have returned to five very small works that have been ongoing since August 2022. They have in common a focus on blue blobs arranged randomly over the picture plane. Using blue and blobs is unusual for me. These works are nearly complete.

What are you making next?

More lines! I feel there is plenty of scope for further exploration of this visual element.

Five of the recent large paintings have very sparse linework in earth tones to look like a net or roots over yellow ochre and grey. As much I enjoy these works and they look complete, I do not think I will continue with any more of the same simplicity, I think I would prefer to see if I can use the same type of wavy variable width line but in more layers, so there is little of the background evident.

As well as painting large canvases I plan on more work on paper in drawing books and creating more computer interactives.

What does ‘Pride’ mean to you?

I am a visual artist with a hidden disability. Poor mental health has changed my life profoundly. For me Disability Pride means to remain proud […] in the face of attitudes of fear and stigma that remain prevalent. I am not my diagnosis. I also would not asked to be fixed if there were a magical way to cauterise away differences that have caused me trauma because they also have given me great experiences, they are a part of who I am.

abstract painting of lines by Matthew Simpson

Steppe, Matthew Simpson, oil on canvas, 2023, 1015 x 1015mm

Learn more about how AAV can support artists through grants and auspicing here.

Find more of Matthew’s work on his website. Follow him on Instagram, @matthew.simpson888.

Artist in focus Arts Exhibition Grants NDIS Visual Arts