by Antoinette du Plessis 20 April 2006

Stay away 2006
Oil on canvas 25 x25 cm
Over a glass of chilled coffee I chatted to Matt Hindley at a café in central Cape Town recently. His paintings have been selling steadily, he is preparing for his second solo exhibition. His first was in August 2004, less than two years ago. He is a young artist with a future.

South Africa’s visual culture has been called a ‘curious mash-up of local and imported traditions, a rude splicing together of dissonant concepts and styles’ (Shaun O’Toole wrote that). So I questioned Matthew about ‘influences’ in his painting. He reflected before replying. My work is constructed, aesthetically refined and intentional. Not precise, but intentional. I have gone quite far in why I do it the way I do it. I used to look at Japanese neo art, but not any more. I now look at European stuff, old masters. And at New York painters of my own generation. But there is a massive amount of visual influences out there, from play station layouts to everything else, you know. There is proliferation rather than shortage; I feel no pressure to be part of any one stream or idea. 

34LONG is planning Hindley’s exhibition to coincide with Takashi Murakami’ introductory show in Cape Town at the end of the year. The whole world knows Takashi. How does Hindley feel about that? Well, he says, I was initially slightly uncomfortable about such a direct link but I have come to think of it as a compliment, and I now like the idea. Strategically it is cool. He laughs. Your question assumes a competitiveness, and I am not that. I’m not insecure. I used to be competitive, practically my whole life up to now, but not any more. Please, don’t make this sound cheesy, or Oprah-ish. But it is true: now that I am becoming successful, I feel no need to be competitive; I just do what my instincts tell me. So, yes, I look forward to being exhibited next to Takashi, it is going to be a great moment in my life, and I hope in his life too, and then both of us will move in our own directions again. It will only be a moment in time, you know, everything is in motion.

Hindley lives in Bo-Kaap, and works in a studio a few blocks away. He is happy in the city. He says: my life is beautiful; I make sufficient money with my art; I do not have to do other jobs any more. I used to do web design and advertising stuff, but not any more.

Returning to his current body of work, oil on canvas, I asked him whether he thinks of himself primarily as a painter. I thought this might be a tricky question, leading to complicated speculation about photography, new media, design, etcetera, but Matthew was unphased. Yes, I think I do, he replied. Then qualified his answer: if my instincts tell me to work in other media again, though, I will do so. But right now, I believe in painting as a superior technology for making images, a technology which has stood the test of time. And I believe in being truthful. I did not always use to, I used to make up things in interviews as a joke, but not any more.

I could not resist asking at least one question about his imagery, particularly his images of women. They are often in situations of anguished distress, but at the same time like a virgin, or a Virgin. Does he attempt to paint his anima? I don’t know, he says. I am surrounded by strong women in my life, each with their own unique damage, and unique ways of keeping their damage alive. Maybe I paint them, maybe I paint myself.

Walking up Long Street to my car, we chat about artists, art dealers, art writers, art history and art futures. Matthew smiles and waves and I think how easy it is to interview an artist at ease with himself, reaching to the future, his bright eyes laughing. 
All images © Matthew Hindley, right to use or reproduce text in any format reserved worldwide, 
© vgallery cc 2006
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