Kate Matthews breaks down the rules of established, modernist, two-dimensional abstraction.
Her practice explores the limits of geometric and optical painting through the use of colour, repetition, sequence and distortion. Obscuring the rules of fixed, consecutive arrangements, her work generates a sense of unease by creating broken and fragmented shapes whilst in a uniform composition. An endless battle between systems and disorder, structure and chaos echo throughout her paintings.
Referencing modernist abstraction whilst challenging its foundation of two-dimensionality and the flat surface of the painting plane, her practice includes the disciplines of sculpture and architecture. Surfaces are created which fold inward and lie on various angles, occupying and enlivening physical space. As the viewer moves around the work, the forms, shapes and shadows alter, creating a sense of disorientation and surprise.
Kate Matthews gained an MA and First-Class Honours Degree in Art: Theory and Practice from Lancaster University. Her work has been included in the Celeste Painting Prize and she was named one of the top ten emerging artists in the UK by the Prospects Art Prize. She has produced work for the Liverpool Biennial, exhibited throughout the UK and been a lead artist in numerous art residencies.
Kate Matthews' work transcends the obsession with ‘meaning’ in contemporary art. By focussing on the aesthetic and optical effects of pattern, repetition, and emphasising the materiality or ‘thingness’ of various three dimensional structures in her painting practice, she is not only drawing on and combining various traditions in painting, sculpture, installation art and architecture, but she is advocating a renewed appreciation of the experience of ‘substance’ in the experience of art. Her work invites the viewer to pull back from the abstract world of meaning and to appreciate the material presence of the object as a ‘thing’ which occupies space and creates material manifestations upon the senses. The whimsical titles contrast the striking precision and sensory impact of the work, and play upon the contemporary viewer’s instinct to search for the meanings or significances attached to profound objects.
Dr V. A. Miller, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, University of Kent.
Kate Matthews 'redefines what is perceived as painting' through her semi-sculptural works which combine three dimensional physicality with a painted optical effect. Although these objects are reminiscent of modernist painting and the optical concerns of the likes of Bridget Riley, their sculptural aspect immediately separates them from the traditional perception of painting as a two dimensional medium which relies purely on its visual effect. Matthews' work is still very much concerned with the optical, playing with the mind's perception of colour and depth on a flat surface. However, as the viewer approaches the work, he becomes aware of it as an object that exists in space as it extends beyond the traditiional spatial boundaries of painting from the gallery wall. So whilst the paint itself creates its own depth through colour relationships and the play of light upon its surface, the object upon which it lays interacts with real space, fusing what were once the distinctly separate qualities of painting and sculpture and creating a fresh context for contemporary painting.
James A. Brown, Lecturer in Contextual Practices, Plymouth College of Art.
Training and Higher Education
Curatorial Intern. University of Kent.
MA Fine Art. Lancaster University.
BA Art: Theory and Practice, (First Class Honours). Lancaster University.
Awards and Residencies
2017 VIA Arts Prize - Finalist
2016 Awarded Membership of The Royal Britich Society of Sculptors
2015 National Open Art Competition - Shortlisted
2013 Artist Residency The Old Lookout Gallery, Broadstairs.
2012 Artist Residency ROOM, Faversham.
2006 Celeste Art Prize - Shortlisted
2001 Prospects Art Prize - Finalist
2000 BA Art: Theory and Practice. Award for Academic Excellence