My paintings can be perceived upon viewing as two styles of aesthetic representation. From afar they emulate certain realism akin to the photographic source that the subject was taken from. On closer inspection a form of abstraction is represented through a series of lines and fragmented markings. Both styles confront the viewer from different vantage points and create differing responses. As opposite as the styles are, they are united by the messages they are trying to portray both from the artists subject matter and also from the viewers personal interpretation, both interdependent on each other.


The predominant feature of toys, in particular action figures, as the main subject matter within my work lends its importance to a time in my life when I was younger and life was more simple – something I try to recreate now for a number of reasons. This uses forms of escapism both as a child, as I spent many a day adventuring in a world without limit, complexities, expectations and abrupt endings and also observed whilst watching my own children as they laugh and play with their own toys perceivably enjoying the same excitements and wonders as I too did.


The compositions I created as a child, integrating my figures amongst everyday objects have faithfully been recreated in my work as I introduce, amidst my toys, contemporary and everyday objects within a juxtaposition of old nostalgic items. This creates a visual aesthetic akin to memories from childhood and aspects of modern day living in particular towards my passion of collecting old and new action figures. My memories are precious to me but as I age they have morphed from ‘mental video snippets’ to more like photographic stills that influences how I like my paintings to look. The books I like to use in my work represent my University life that created the immediate passion and thirst for knowledge on the style of painting most similar to the style I tried to paint whilst growing up. Learning the history of realism within an academic environment enabled me to establish a realistic style akin to the properties of a photograph that best represented how I want my paintings to look. I can create an objective representation of how we perceive life and the real world to be and as a separate entity, somewhat opposite to the properties of a photograph; a subjective interference creeps into my work allowing atmosphere and nostalgia amongst a subject matter that can produce vivid colour and imagery true to memories. This is emphasised further by my use when taking the photographic source and using computer manipulation to enhance and change the originals properties.


Generally I use a child’s vantage point as my compositional setting within my work to both represent the viewpoint I had on life when I was younger and also the viewpoint of my own children’s lives today. This allows many possible future genres and compositional styles as I can adapt my variations in execution within this philosophy, as I am not totally dependent on any one style. I can interweave the banal or the ordinary with undertones of cynicism, pastiche and irony akin to my eclectic outlook on life today. Recent mental heath issues influence my artwork and allow a layered irony and subjective themes. The lack of a reality in my own mind sometimes is contrasted with the reality I try to execute within the aesthetics in my style of work.


The action figure toy, for me, is the most compelling image that defines my life since I can remember and the limitless situations it can be integrated with mundane ordinary objects is fascinating and fuels my obsession. Added together this gives a different dynamic within my work and style and changes the narrative viewpoint amidst its complexity and perception yet it retains the simplicity it was allowed back when I was younger.

 Matthew Shutt



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