Tomorrow night Matt Haber will open with his much anticipated solo exhibition, “Luminous World” at LeBasse Projects :: Chinatown. I was able to catch up with Matt and talk about this exhibition. Enjoy the Q & A!
Q: Where did your inspiration of your exhibition come from?
A: Last year the paintings I was making all had one thing in common. They were primarily characters on their way somewhere, traveling from place to place. I did a solo show at BLDG Kentucky titled the ‘Little Voyageuers’ because of that. After that show I began work on a new image that seemed the same. Characters, this time on top of a teapot and in a teacups in an ocean, riding out a lightning storm on their way somewhere. I realized I’d painted that idea many times and got to thinking more about where they were going. I started story boarding out their journey a little bit more and ended up in this wild place where flowers were 10 stories over their heads, geodesic orbs floated around and the light made trees glow. A place very far from home. I realized I’d never painted that painting before so I decided to make the subject matter for this show about that world.
Q: How is this show different from your last exhibition?
A: One thing I’m doing differently is I’m trying to develop my style a bit more. I’m not requiring the characters to be a specific scale as I always had before. I wanted to approach the images as if you were a character in the story. My work is always narrative, but I thought it would be a new dimension to add the viewer in the image somehow. I was thinking along the lines of a photographer in the battlefield. I wanted the viewer to literally be there. I’m also flushing out the background details a lot more and playing with light sources differently, such as lanterns, sunrises and soft light which I had never done. I also missed my simpler style and color palette from 6 years ago so I worked on a few of those for this show too which mixes better than I expected.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your creative process?
A: Over the past year I’ve gone deeper into Photoshop with my color studies. I paint it out pretty well realized on my computer with my Wacom tablet. I’ve gotten pretty good at digital drawing and painting and I move faster than with real paint so go I through Ideas faster. I like this because I almost always have more on the way and this helps me edit out the funky ones. After I’ve locked my painting down in digital it’s always the same. Acrylic and latex on panel. I enjoy painting digitally now but the feeling of creating and finishing the real thing, bringing a painting into the world can’t be replaced. Next year I hope to get back into oil again, there are effects I can’t quite seem to achieve with acrylic.
Q: What’s an average painting day like for you?
A: They’re always different but there is usually a nap involved somewhere. I read an interview somewhere from a screenwriter who said he’ll work in the morning and nap in the afternoon and then pick it up again in the evening. He did that because he said his mind works out issues and problems with his work while he’s unconscious. I think I work like that too. I also paint best at night when the world is calm outside.
Q: Who/what are your influences? Who are the artists you’re really into
A: I think Yoshitomo Nara rules. I like how he has brought collaboration more into his process with his large-scale home installations. I am trying to do more of that when I can. It makes it less about you. I love the work Kaws is doing. I can’t stop looking at everything new he puts out there. I am always drawn to artists who have an essence of magic to their work and are heavily narrative. I lean toward things with emotional depth. I recently discovered Michael Borremans’ paintings which are lovely, classically leaning vignettes of story. Pretty much anything David Zwirner Gallery puts out is awesome to me. Also I want to mention Freddie Moore. He was the master of appeal at Disney in the 30′s and 40′s. Without him I wouldn’t have gotten so excited about drawing as appealingly as I possibly could.
Q: There’s a lot of narrative aspect to your work. What ideas or stories are
you trying to tell?
A: For me, the goal is to work towards an idea with a beginning, middle and end. I know the history and mythology of my world pretty well, and I have lots of stories to tell. For now they exist as vignettes. With ‘Luminous World’ I’ve attempted to produce paintings which link together more than ever. There are still tangents and breaks in the structure but I think that is how my art works. I like multiple meanings and I like the viewer to discover something of their own in each piece and what it means.
Q: How has your work evolved over time? And where do you see your artwork
A: I realized I have actually been working in this style for a while. I worked simply and more monochromatic in the beginning. I became more interested in color in the middle years and now I’m trying to use my knowledge of both, like tools when I need them. I have lots of things I haven’t tried with my work yet. Animation is always on my mind. Bringing a finished story into the world would be amazing. I fell in love with painting more this year, I would love to make work with a level of detail and quality that elevates it into another realm. Some artists seems to be able to make things that look otherworldly and have a great craftsmanship. I’d like to strive for that.